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Answerman - Is Anime Streaming Consumer-Friendly Right Now?


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jakewil85



Joined: 08 Feb 2014
Posts: 11
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:43 am Reply with quote
Amazon - remove double paywall

Netflix - simulcasting and standalone anime subscription

Then we'll talk.
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Halko



Joined: 27 Apr 2015
Posts: 38
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:58 am Reply with quote
And this is the kind of article that I come here for. You cant get any more straightforward and to the point than this. For the longest time the anime community has really for lack of a better word been spoiled by how accessible anime itself has been for the longest time. Back when digital fansubs hit big the fandom exploded and that happened again when crunchyroll brought about cheap streaming to the masses. The anime scene has come a long way from its roots of bootleg VHS tapes.

I for one think it is a good thing that more players are getting in the game for streaming services. Sure its more expensive per month but the competition should lead to a better end product. I still remember when crunchy lowered the bitrate on many of their shows without letting people know. In a healthy competitive market ideas like that are much less likely to fly. Its the same way with netflix and amazon right now too. Unless they make their services comparable to what you get from crunchy they will never get their subscribers.
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angelmcazares
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:12 am Reply with quote
While good video quality, good translations and a player that work are important in streaming services, the bottom line to me is do you have 4-5 shows I want to watch each season, an app for my PS3 and does your service cost $5-7 per month. And no matter how good or crappy the player is, the number of streaming titles trumps everything else in my opinion.

Last edited by angelmcazares on Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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Animegomaniac



Joined: 16 Feb 2012
Posts: 2911
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:15 am Reply with quote
Crunchyroll: Nothing. It's not happening.

Amazon: Ditto.

The two services I subscribe to... and Netflix as well but that's more of a coincidence as I use that more for movies on physical DVDs and less for streaming; Streaming may be about accessibility but there are so many movies not streaming, you know?... and that's HIDIVE and Funimation. They both have dubs but its not about the dubs. I'd rather watch a show that has stood the test of time than the latest show selling the latest IP in Japan.

We've lost quite a bit going into this internet age, from a vetting process over which time a show took years to get processed to series that were more likely to be complete within their runtime than not... these days you're lucky enough to get an idea of it before its tenth and final episode rolls around.

Streaming is "new", about "new content" and its "interesting because its unknown" but it's also about quantity above quality and that should become a problem eventually. CR was hoping to be able to ignore this by getting "all the anime"... I'm never not going to stop quoting that one... but its now a battlefield... caused because a bunch of people willing to become pirates went to a site that had the most content.... I'm not going to let that one go either because that created expectations, very unreasonable expectations.

Japan: "Anime should be rare and expensive! You know how much this costs!?"
Rest of the World Consumers: "Anime should be free and easy!"
Rest of the World Consumers: "Ok, we'll pay some for it. Not a lot, give us a deal."
Rest of the World Consumers: "Ok, we'll pay some more."
Rest of the world Consumers: "Wait, why is there less content on this site each season now?"

I swear, all the streaming for a year costs as much as a single series did on VHS... VHS mind you; it took a lot of 3/4 episode tapes to finish a series,... and people will still find reasons to complain these days.
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
Posts: 1935
Location: Austin, TX
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:40 am Reply with quote
Why should entertainers get things super good? Oh musicians can't live off royalties? Boo-hoo. Oh no, they have to WORK for a living every day like the rest of us. That whole argument is a BS detour in this thread anyway, since animators don't get royalties. Yeah, I get that the economics are complicated and the amount of money producers get affects the amount of anime that gets made, but in the end that IS a much more complex conversation that can't be easily distilled down to "competition is good". (I'm a software developer, I not only get ZERO royalties for my development work, but I ALSO have to CONSTANTLY perform support to users)

The simple fact is that fragmentation is BAD for the anime industry because it makes viewing into a niche-of-a-niche-of-a-niche.

You need to be: someone who will watch animation (usually subtitled)->Someone who will seek out a semi-obscure service to watch animation->Someone who will PAY for said service->on a per title basis (since it's not all one service). There's a REASON that channels like ESPN argued to get some of their sub-channels included on the "base" cable package with attendant fees then going to ESPN, it's because once people are told that X channel is "extra" a LARGE majority of people aren't going to pay it.

And that's the problem, you're asking people to pay a MONTHLY subscription in order to maintain access to multiple channels in CASE a show you want to see is going to appear on each of them. How many people REALLY watch 8+ shows each season? If I only watch (on average) 2-3 shows a season, why would I pay for services I'm not going to use? And cancelling/re-subscribing is a hassle, which is why services (like phone/cable) put a LOT of effort into acquiring new customers compared to holding existing ones. Even if piracy was gone overnight, in the end its just EASIER to not watch than to try to follow multiple services.

Heck, that's the whole POINT of price aggregator sites. Even though you the consumer can benefit from price comparing MOST people don't want to go through that kind of hassle. So give them one place to instant compare prices and they'll flock there. Likewise, most people don't want the hassle of bouncing between multiple sites to find X show. Ironically, you'd PROBABLY see better success building one site that compiles all those streams even if the final cost was the same (ie. a "single" anime portal that has all company streams for $50/month).


Last edited by HeeroTX on Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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Daizo



Joined: 03 Feb 2009
Posts: 127
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:42 am Reply with quote
Quote:
I don't quite agree with this perception. It's not that there's no difference between the services or that they haven't tried to make their services more popular in other ways. There are substantial differences in device support, subtitle styling, site design and video encoding. Most of the services have invested tons of resources in back catalog content, which varies wildly between the sites. Unfortunately, few people seem to care.


As someone who does actually care about things like subtitle styling and video encoding (ie. the content and localization quality first and foremost), if the sites are supposedly competing in these areas, it sure doesn't show. Crunchyroll has always been mediocre at most in terms of video encoding (and there was that whole video quality fiasco with them a while back which they still haven't fixed for the vast majority of their backlog nor have they given any time approximations for doing so). Amazon is about the only US-focused service that I would say has good video quality, but that certainly doesn't seem to have inspired other services to improve in response.

In terms of subtitle styling, Crunchyroll has always been the leader of the pack, but they've also been hopelessly behind fansubs since their inception. Sentai is basically the only other company that tries to do some sign styling, while with everyone else it's pretty much a joke. No-one certainly seems too interested in reaching higher in this regard, even when they're hardsubbing the signs into the video and could really do anything (including reaching the level of fansubs).

My great hope at the start of the simulcast age was that one day they'd truly surpass fansubs in every regard, but here we are almost 9 years and we haven't really come much closer to that goal than we were back in the day. Needless to say, this is extremely frustrating.

Beyond this, something I feel the article didn't address enough was the fact that even in the current situation with multiple services, there are ways in which things could be improved without completely overhauling the system. Namely, by actually letting people digitally buy series. And by buy I really mean buy, ie. giving the users DRM-free downloads. The European anime company Wakanim recently expanded their service to Scandinavia, and beyond offering the usual subscription service for watching stuff online, they also let you actually buy series digitally at reasonable price (1€ per episode or 10€ for a cour, ie. 10-13 episodes depending on the series). The video quality is also really good, beating out even Amazon. So while it might be a bit annoying that they've nabbed some local licenses from Crunchyroll (which I have a subscription to), at the same time I'm actually glad for this when it comes to series I really like and want to own, because Wakanim enables this and actually delivers good quality products (well, they do have plenty of room for improvement in terms of subtitle styling, but seriously the video encoding is really nice).

With physical space at premium (plus BD and DVD not actually being all that great in terms of what you can do with them compared to digital releases), actual digital ownership with good quality products is something I'd love to see a lot more from the industry. It would certainly help quite a bit with the multi-service gripes, since if there was just one or two shows you want to watch on a separate service, you could just buy them without needing another extra subscription on top of all your other ones.
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:44 am Reply with quote
Quote:
I swear, all the streaming for a year costs as much as a single series did on VHS... VHS mind you; it took a lot of 3/4 episode tapes to finish a series,... and people will still find reasons to complain these days.


Exactly. It's amazing how much the cost has dropped compared to not all that long ago.

That being said, I do find it frustrating that despite the fact we have had so much technological progress since those days it can still be hard to find many series you want to watch without buying the physical media.

I got into Anime during the 90's. Back then there weren't very many titles available domestically and the dub/sub standards were not what they are today. Obviously watching online was impossible with the tech of the day. So fans had no choice but to buy tapes or LDs. Very expensive, but at least you had the media forever thereafter. With the growth of internet and streaming services suddenly it became a lot less expensive, and more convenient, to watch new shows. But it hasn't helped at all if you want to go back and watch an earlier show. Even with today's technology you're still stuck buying physical media (or saving pirated downloads) if you want to ensure you can watch a program in the future. I used to subscribe to Hulu purely because of their catalog of older shows. But that's gone, so I stopped subscribing. I do like being able to watch new shows on Crunchyroll (etc.) but I sill buy physical media because I have little faith that those shows will always be there.
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mgosdin



Joined: 17 Jul 2011
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Location: Kissimmee, Florida, USA
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:54 am Reply with quote
To fully answer the question as it was asked; " I'm not entirely happy with my streaming choices, so for this particular consumer, No, it isn't entirely friendly and it will have to be to survive. "

There's a lot of good going on here, an incredible variety of programming that is fairly easy to access. However, there is a disconnect of sorts between the various streaming suppliers and anime fans. Some of it is because of where the fans came from, many if not most are technically astute ( Something that is somewhat less so with the general streaming public. ) which means that they can and will engineer around the issues they encounter. Fans are also much more verbal, so there is no lack of feedback to the streaming companies. On the other hand, the streaming companies face problems unique to each of them ( Crunchyroll isn't the same as HiDive or Netfix or hulu and no one is in the same position as Amazon. ) So they don't all respond the same to the fan's engineering and feedback.

It's interesting times indeed, something that we could have wished to not see.

Mark Gosdin
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Halko



Joined: 27 Apr 2015
Posts: 38
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:57 am Reply with quote
HeeroTX wrote:
Why should entertainers get things super good? Oh musicians can't live off royalties? Boo-hoo. Oh no, they have to WORK for a living every day like the rest of us. That whole argument is a BS detour in this thread anyway, since animators don't get royalties.


Now this whole argument here is total bullshit. Your essentially saying that creators should not get paid appropriately for their work. Sure animation companies generally dont get royalties but saying that someone that makes something that sells reasonably well shouldnt be able to live relatively comfortably is stupid. Going down that path will just mean that there will be no more indie success stories. Your either double platinum or not selling a single record and homeless.

Content and goods creators are essentially contract work. If you dont like the contract you have to either deal with it or find a better contract. If all of the streaming services are on the same network from the same company there is literally no other option but to accept the contract given no matter how terrible it is just to do what you need to do to survive. That is why competition is good. One company cant demand a larger share of the proceeds and share less of that with its contract work because their competition will keep them in check from doing so.

If you want to see what a monopoly can do you should look back at the oil and train monopolies in the 1800s and 1900s. One company controlling too much of a market is never a good thing.
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Thorfinn



Joined: 14 Dec 2016
Posts: 557
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:00 pm Reply with quote
HeeroTX wrote:
Why should entertainers get things super good? Oh musicians can't live off royalties? Boo-hoo. Oh no, they have to WORK for a living every day like the rest of us. That whole argument is a BS detour in this thread anyway, since animators don't get royalties.


This right here, the Spotify and music industry example is pointless and just a pathetic distraction from the topic.

This is also a good point because animators and the actual animation studios get screwed over anyway and don't get any of the streaming money. (unless we're talking about some of the extremely rare cases where the studio itself is a part of the production committee of the show in a majority, one of the only examples of such rare cases I have is The Ancient Magus's Bride, where I.G port and I.G related companies made up at least half of the production committee)
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leafy sea dragon



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
Posts: 6628
Location: Another Kingdom
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:17 pm Reply with quote
jakewil85 wrote:
Netflix - simulcasting and standalone anime subscription


While I can see why their lack of simulcasting may be a problem, I'm not really seeing why Netflix would ever do standalone anime subscriptions. Netflix doesn't do standalone subscriptions for anything else it has. There's no reason it'd make an exception for anime.

Daizo wrote:
In terms of subtitle styling, Crunchyroll has always been the leader of the pack, but they've also been hopelessly behind fansubs since their inception. Sentai is basically the only other company that tries to do some sign styling, while with everyone else it's pretty much a joke. No-one certainly seems too interested in reaching higher in this regard, even when they're hardsubbing the signs into the video and could really do anything (including reaching the level of fansubs).


This is something I find kind of interesting about anime fans: They go all out with fonts and colors and such. Among foreign film viewers, they don't care one bit about that, and many would even find it distracting as it calls attention to itself.

Personally, I prefer my subtitles to be as plain as possible. I want to forget I'm reading something at the bottom of the screen. I've seen some fansubs for stuff like One Piece where they'll actually animate the letters and such, and it always got annoying to me because it felt like they're saying, "Look at us! We made these subtitles!"

Daizo wrote:
Beyond this, something I feel the article didn't address enough was the fact that even in the current situation with multiple services, there are ways in which things could be improved without completely overhauling the system. Namely, by actually letting people digitally buy series. And by buy I really mean buy, ie. giving the users DRM-free downloads. The European anime company Wakanim recently expanded their service to Scandinavia, and beyond offering the usual subscription service for watching stuff online, they also let you actually buy series digitally at reasonable price (1€ per episode or 10€ for a cour, ie. 10-13 episodes depending on the series). The video quality is also really good, beating out even Amazon. So while it might be a bit annoying that they've nabbed some local licenses from Crunchyroll (which I have a subscription to), at the same time I'm actually glad for this when it comes to series I really like and want to own, because Wakanim enables this and actually delivers good quality products (well, they do have plenty of room for improvement in terms of subtitle styling, but seriously the video encoding is really nice).


Something DRM-free AND pay-to-own would terrify the content owners though, as there's theoretically nothing preventing you from creating copies of it and sharing it with everyone you know. How did the anime companies let Wakanim get away with this, and how has Wakanim remained profitable in this way?

Halko wrote:
Going down that path will just mean that there will be no more indie success stories. Your either double platinum or not selling a single record and homeless.


Hope is not lost for the indie scene, but for a totally different reason: Unique to the music industry, or at least stronger in it than any other medium by a longshot, is a "fight the man" kind of mentality, and this includes supporting local and small-level bands and musicians and, inf act, buying physical albums from them. It's strong enough that indie groups can survive and be profitable (or at least not homeless), though they'll have problems breaking out and upwards. (Some bands aren't too interested in that though.)

I honestly don't know what the future of the music business will be though. Perhaps they'll be centered around licenses as songs get used in other media. (I can't make heads or tails out of Spotify's business structure, really. I thought they'd be supported through ads, but apparently not?)
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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Location: Austin, TX
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:26 pm Reply with quote
Halko wrote:
Now this whole argument here is total bullshit. Your essentially saying that creators should not get paid appropriately for their work.

What is "paid appropriately"? There's 2 musicians, 1 makes millions off of 1 song and another gets paid $100/night to play a gig. If you're ABLE to sell yourself to the tune of millions, bully for you. But don't whine to me that "the industry" is in a death spiral and you're not making money hand over fist from back end sales that you haven't put effort into.

Your efforts are worth what people will pay for them, no more, no less. Do you have ANY IDEA how many restaurants, stores, book series, manga, TV shows, etc that I LOVED but will never get more of because my personal interest was not enough to sustain them? I bought JAPANESE laserdiscs back when they were like $100 for 2-3 episodes and STILL saw series that I was following evaporate. So telling me musicians still need to tour rather than being able to earn a living wage just on royalties doesn't do a damn thing to earn my sympathies.

(and this doesn't even factor in the entertainers that crap on fans of their "one" hit work and complain about them not listening to their "new" stuff)
leafy sea dragon wrote:
I honestly don't know what the future of the music business will be though. Perhaps they'll be centered around licenses as songs get used in other media. (I can't make heads or tails out of Spotify's business structure, really. I thought they'd be supported through ads, but apparently not?)

Another reason for my above comments is that I think the "future" is a return to the past. The one thing the music industry has going for it is people still appreciate it as a "performance" medium. In many people's minds nothing beats the "fidelity" of a live performance, and thus a musician can ALWAYS (assuming they have anything people want to hear) earn a living performing. Yes, it's convenient when they can live off of NOT performing (ie. recordings) but if not, they can just go on tour. If they don't like that, then they shouldn't choosing PERFORMING as a career.
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st_owly
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Joined: 20 May 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:35 pm Reply with quote
jakewil85 wrote:
Amazon - remove double paywall

Netflix - simulcasting and standalone anime subscription

Then we'll talk.


Nailed it. Whoever came up with the double paywall idea has a special place in hell waiting for them.
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Saidah Gilbert



Joined: 03 Oct 2015
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Location: Trinidad and Tobago
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:45 pm Reply with quote
Perhaps anime streaming needs to be like cable TV? I have never had cable in my home because Daddy refuses to pay for it. He doesn't see the point of having tons of channels that you don't watch just for the few TV shows on the 1-2 channels that you may watch. With anime being spread out among different streaming companies, you have no choice but to suscribe to many different companies if you want to watch most or all the shows showing in a particular season. It would be handy if you could simply pay a streaming bill and receive several different 'channels' for your anime. All the companies will still receive their separate fees in that case like I assume network channels do.
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:50 pm Reply with quote
Saidah Gilbert wrote:
Perhaps anime streaming needs to be like cable TV?


I'm not sure what it's like in Trindad and Tobago, but in the US cable TV is very expensive compared to Anime streaming services. For the price of a cable TV subscription you could subscribe to ALL the anime streaming services and still have money left over.
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