Re: Enter the Fally Zone — How to Solve the Issues with the Anime Industry
Let’s talk economics for consumers and industry. Online Streaming for anime is drastically consumed less than anime consumption in Western countries. With DVR and a busy schedule, the Japanese people have less incentive to consume online. For the minority that are consuming any media online (the minority is slowly increasing, however it isn’t a large enough growth to be noteworthy), they will take advantage of using their smartphones to view anime the exact same way that I will start watching anime (during commutes and waiting times on the go).
Considering these trends, it’s expected for online consumption to continue to grow anyways.
Now to talk more on Industry issues now that the consumer issue is here and in everyone’s face. The nature of doing business in Japan has inherent limits because of an identity crisis on the industry-side. I won’t go into too much detail because it certainly is way more complex of an issue and I don’t want to bore you with economic trade policy — you’ll just have to trust me on that. The nature of what distributors have to go through with their current business models is risking a secure business model that relies on a consistent market and demographic that has been there for decades vs opening up their distributing rights to online streaming services and asking for investment that is scarce to begin with.
To distributors, the risk of doing online streaming to Western audiences used to be viewed as a pure path to failure. After Crunchyroll partnered with Funimation, the game changed since the two companies had solidified the business model of online streaming as a secure means of doing business. However, making larger leaps outside of simple licensing is a scary risk that is unfamiliar. So what THEY agree to as well (not animators and animation studios, we’re talking Production Committees and Distributors) is to collaborate with the major players in the West in the same fashion that they are comfortable with: Production Committees.
Amazon and Netflix are doing their best to prove themselves to join in on this model by any means possible, all at the same time EVERY PARTY ARE TRYING TO HAVE EVERYTHING BOTH WAYS.
Here’s what I mean by that: Netflix’s business model is to wait 1 cour to release a simulcast to “play it safe” WITHIN their own usual business model. Netflix’s model is to encourage binge watching. They get more stocks and investment based on their viewership TIME. The more people watch and stay on the service, the better Netflix looks. With the idea of simulcasting, Netflix isn’t ballsy enough to take the risk of introducing series one episode at a time. The way Netflix likes to do things, as proven with every move they ever do as revealed when you read articles concerning Netflix, is to avoid being like Hulu by all means. This stubbornness is what we currently have with their recent anime push. Netflix wants to have it their way and the anime industry wants to have it their way too. Everybody, except consumers, are happy.
Amazon’s business model relies on partnerships (outsourcing). You can use their Instant Video service to watch Starz, HBO and other “channels” as it is. They found it appropriate to (start to) contract industry giants like Sentai in the same fashion they already do with other companies in the West. Again, we are here again with businesses trying to have their cake and eat it (have it both ways). Amazon does this for everything they do.
This is the price we pay to get competition against Crunchyroll and Funimation. To avoid a monopoly, Netflix and Amazon are our current alternatives. The more that we consume everything legally, the more comfortable the Production Committees in Japan will be to start investing more in distributing outside of Japan in more ways than they are comfortable with (as we see with the consistent movie showings that we’ve started getting for a whole year so far).
From a consumer standpoint, this is Free Trade 101. We lose unless we make it known that we have the ability to push businesses to take risks. You speak with money and you speak with protest. What is apparent in the anime community is that the idea of “boycotting” means pirating. The issue with this is obvious and you and I know all too well the damages this presents. The reactions of the industry to (disorganized) “boycotting” is to lobby for anti-pirating legislation, that ultimately at the end of the day, ironically does not end pirating.
You ask me what I would have to say to “all of that”? Animators and consumers lose in the current model of business and the models that were present before. Right now where we are with things, is TREMENDOUSLY better than it has ever been in the history of anime as a medium. I like pointing out the positive and today I am pointing out the alternatives to straight up purchasing Amazon Prime ALONE. There are other ways of going about using Amazon Prime. This idea of paying the full bill alone is closed-minded and uncreative. I understand the principle of the anger all too well (and I can go on all day about it). I am simply tired of the anime community bickering and being unproductive about the things that they dislike. People like Gigguk are fine for at least awareness, but there are never any outlets and influencers that offer tangible solutions.
If I had to offer a full plan, I would want an awareness movement to be made to truly tackle piracy. If you can reduce piracy to 1% of consumers, then that is a monumental success. How do we do this? We gather influencers, groups and other organizations to join in on educating people on the facts of the situation. If and when enough people are on the same page, you petition businesses give a voice to the Anime Community that strictly lists an organized boycott. That is how you properly get businesses to change. What do we change it to? We get Anime Strike to be a separate subscription. If that means the price has to rise to $10-$15/month, that is drastically better than what we currently have and would warrant the worth of the exclusives and catalog that the service currently has. For Netflix, they need to have what Amazon has: channels rather than genre tags. It would be a historical change for online streaming if Netflix decided to take on Amazon’s model. We get Netflix to do the same thing that Amazon would do under this petition. For Crunchyroll and Funimation, they need to start offering discounts to their events (in which Crunchyroll should lower ticket prices to their exclusive theater showings to incentivise more Premium subscriptions). Crunchyroll and Funimation also need to work harder on moving more of their catalog to VRV to make VRV a higher valued service. For ALL OF THE SERVICES: abolish region-blocking. From a crowdfunding stance, the sheer amount of people that can be persuaded to start paying for legal streaming will drastically increase when these terms are made — in which service prices can be lowered to price match Crunchyroll & Funimation. Last but not least, we need to organize with Japanese consumers and try to persuade them to do the same to protest Production Committees to either change their business model to be compatible with Western standards, or negotiate for a better deal to get more of a share on the gains that Western companies make. In these negotiations, animation studios need to have a direct share in profits so that they can pay their workers more. On the political side of things for Japan, they need worker’s unions and a thing called “collective bargaining” to improve worker’s rights. We need to connect with the Japanese Anime Community as well and I don’t mind working towards that goal.
There is solid policy substance for you that you won’t see anyone else suggest. It takes a lot of work to organize all of this, but this is what needs to be done if we want to see change.