On August 31, Consumer Reports released the results of a poll regarding how people consumed televised media.The poll, which had a sample size of 15,277, stated that 52 percent of respondents used a streaming video service like Netflix or Amazon Instant in the previous month. The preferred provider was Netflix, which 81% of streaming respondents admitted to using. Most of these users didn’t “cut the cord” by dropping their cable service, but rather used it as a supplement to their normal television viewing.
Other possible responses were as follows:
- Go to a theater to see a movie (47%)
- Rent a DVD or Blu-ray disc (43%)
- Watch content via On-Demand (32%)
“And this has what to do with anime?”
Well, reader, I’m glad that you asked.
In the anime world, streaming video has been a fact of life for as long as it’s existed, and digital video for even longer. Due to a combination of the growth of broadband, as well as the introduction of advanced distribution technologies, anime in particular grew at an exponential rate. It’s something we acknowledged but rarely focused on nowadays, but this was a phenomenon, to the point that it forced the hands of those in the industry. Companies like ADV were trying to distribute promos via Bittorrent in an attempt to swim against the growing current of unlicensed releases.
In 2006, we were seeing companies like ADV try to forge monetary pathways into the market with initiatives like “ADV Universe.” They were clumsy, DRM-laden, expensive storefronts that failed in every regard as iTunes became a juggernaut. However, they were also clear indicators that the anime market was hungry for digital content. As platforms evolved, and sites like YouTube began to make sharing video faster and easier, we would begin to see the anime market rush to embrace these technologies. The response was so strong that, in 2009, Kadokawa reported over 10 million yen per month in online revenues.
This enthusiasm for fast, easy, and (most important) cheap entertainment would lead this same market to rally around legal streaming services as they arose. From Crunchyroll’s debut as a legitimate distributor in 2008, to the launch of FUNimation’s web portal in 2011, we’ve seen this enthusiasm grow as it made the barrier to the products customers desire nearly nonexistent.
Well, reader, anime fans in particular tend to be leading markets: sneezers, if you may. This group clamors for the technologies that deliver their hobby to them more conveniently or enhances their experience, and they’re more than eager to spread the word about it. And, while not every product they love pans out (there was a dedicated laserdisc market in the ’90s), they’re more than willing to take the plunge and advocate new products that suit their needs.