Neon-Alley-Logo_20130917In just over two weeks, we’ll see the newest of the anime streaming services pass an important milestone. Neon Alley will celebrate its first anniversary on October 2. When Neon Alley first hit the scene, the reaction was split. On one hand, there were staunch champions who couldn’t get enough of the service. On the other, skepticism was rampant. People, knocked the service’s linear format, dub-centric content line-up, and limited platforms through which one could view it. Initially, even we were unsure of the platform’s fate!

In the year since launch, though, Neon Alley has carved a comfortable niche in the American fan community. The service quickly grew out of its PlayStation 3 confines, to find residence on Microsoft’s XBox 360. And, from there, they finally made the leap to PCs on July 2.

Neon Alley’s growth over the year has created an interesting case study specimen. At just shy of seven bucks a month, Neon Alley is priced comparably to competing services, like Crunchyroll and FUNimation. Both of these host far more content and, as on-demand networks, allow the user to shape his own schedule. On top of this, neither is confined to the limited realm of PC screens or games consoles.

For many, though, these products overshoot the market in features. There’s a segment of the customer-base that simply doesn’t want to choose their shows, one at a time. They like the idea that they can turn on the channel, sit back, and let the network provide a curated experience. The format doesn’t matter to these users, so long as the content is strong, and the shows they watch provide enough value for the price tag.

It’s through this model that Viz was able to forge inroads into a competitive market with several entrenched parties. The company was able to create a brand that has a growing subscriber-base, a positive reputation among American fans, and an active community of advocates. As Neon Alley enters its second year, it will be interesting to see how they can leverage their assets and encourage future growth.

Editor’s note: The year is already getting interesting! Neon Alley just announced that they’ll be offering an on-demand “Catch Up” feature for subscribers.