Streaming platforms battle for anime market dominance

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

As anime’s popularity continues to reach new heights, major streaming platforms are vying for dominance in the lucrative market. Fuelled partly by the pandemic, this animated genre has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, with the global market valued at US$28.6 billion in 2022, according to Grand View Research, and expected to double by 2030.

Aya Umezu, CEO of Tokyo-based entertainment consulting firm GEM Partners, noted that the peak may still be ahead and that competition in the anime market is unlikely to slow down soon. Indeed, global demand for anime skyrocketed by 35% from 2020 to 2021, as reported by industry specialist service Parrot Analytics.

Streaming giants such as Disney+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime are racing to capitalise on this soaring interest. Seeking to stand out from the competition, platforms are increasingly opting to secure exclusive rights to content or co-produce their own original anime. Disney+, for example, announced exclusive streaming rights to season two of the hit series “Tokyo Revengers,” as part of a lucrative deal with publishing giant Kodansha. Amazon Prime has likewise looked to monopolise certain blockbuster titles, such as the highest-grossing Japanese movie of last year, “One Piece Film: Red.”

However, Netflix has adopted an unconventional approach, collaborating directly with animation studios and offering them considerable creative freedom to develop new stories. The streaming titan forged a partnership with Tokyo animation studio Production I.G in 2018, sidestepping the traditional anime production committee system. This bold move has paid off, as Netflix’s original content was credited with driving the largest increase in global anime demand in 2021, according to Christofer Hamilton of US-based Parrot Analytics.

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However, there are concerns over the potential limited exposure of anime adaptations in Japan due to exclusive streaming deals. Tadashi Sudo, an anime expert, explained that this clash between platforms seeking more exclusives and production committee players aiming to minimise monopoly could affect decisions regarding Netflix anime deals. As a result, many of Netflix’s original anime is based on works with lower chances of becoming national sensations.

Nonetheless, Netflix has proven to be an attractive platform for studios with niche projects that may not necessarily find success in the traditional market. Taiki Sakurai, Netflix’s chief anime producer, noted that the initial experimental push has since broadened to include a more diverse range of genres, such as comedy and traditional ‘shonen’ targeting young boys. With long-standing fans also having access to dedicated services like Crunchyroll, Yuji Yamano, Netflix’s content director, remains optimistic about future growth in the anime market and believes that competition will only make the industry more exciting, reports Bangkok Post.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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