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Why Is Daisuki Shutting Down?

by Justin Sevakis,

invalidname asked:

What happened with Daisuki anyways? With all those Japanese original rights-holders involved, shouldn't they have had a natural advantage over licensors like Crunchyroll that have to pay for content?

Daisuki.net, the anime streaming website that was started by a group of anime companies only a few years ago in 2013, announced last week that the site will close down. In a statement, the site offered a timeline for an orderly shut-down by the end of 2017.

Its ownership roster reads like a who's-who of Japanese anime companies. Originally co-owned by ad agency/producers Asatsu-DK, Dentsu and Nihon Ad Systems, as well as Toei Animation, Aniplex, Sunrise, TMS Entertainment, within about a year the corporation was taken over by Anime Consortium Japan, a joint venture consisting of media and toy empire Bandai Namco Holdings, manga publsihers-turned-producers Shueisha, Shogakukan, Kodansha and Kadokawa, figure makers Good Smile Company and Bushiroad, anime studio/producer Toei Animation, and the Japanese government's Cool Japan office. Back in March, Bandai Namco bought out all of the other shareholders.

On paper, Daisuki.net should have been a success. With the backing of such heavy-hitters, most of whom had a very large back catalog, it seemed like their success would've been a no-brainer. However, when it launched, the anime streaming landscape was a very different place, one almost entirely dominated by Crunchyroll. Unfortunately, what ended up launching was simply not a good fit for the Western market in 2014, and despite many improvements over the years, ENTIRELY unsuited for the market today.

The biggest problem by far was that the interface simply paled in comparison to virtually every other streaming platform. Fans that tried the service were constantly complaining about it: its overall layout, its less-than-solid video performance, its initial lack of HD video, and its seemingly random errors. The site never really fully got its kinks worked out in terms of user experience.

The site also couldn't compete with the big money being paid by Crunchyroll, Funimation, and later Amazon for exclusive streaming rights. While the companies that partially owned Daisuki had some interest in its success, the top priority was in getting revenue for their new shows. With competition for streaming rights becoming white hot in the last few years, Daisuki ended up being left with only the shows that weren't licensed to anyone else exclusively. That means they mostly got the shows that other companies weren't interested in.

Daisuki also tried hard to push its huge back catalog of content. However, most older shows don't stream in very big numbers, and certainly not in big enough numbers to keep a service going. Its initial line-up of shows included series like Prince of Tennis and Gundam ZZ -- fine shows, but not exactly ones that get Western fans worked up into a lather.

The end result is that the site simply never took off. With an ever-increasing amount of competition and very little evidence that the site could turn its fortunes around, Bandai Namco clearly has decided to cut its losses. Which is a shame, because there are a few countries that were served by Daisuki that are not being served currently by other platforms. Hopefully someone will take care of that problem soon.

Full disclosure: Anime Consortium Japan has a minority ownership stake in Anime News Network.

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Anime News Network founder Justin Sevakis wrote Answerman between July 2013 and August 2019, and had over 20 years of experience in the anime business at the time. These days, he's the owner of the video production company MediaOCD, where he produces many anime Blu-rays. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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