September 25, 2020

Otakujin

Anime, JRPGs, and everything otaku!

Netflix’s Impact on The Anime Streaming Industry

Over the last decade the adoption of the internet into one’s home has grown tremendously and with the billions of new internet users came the dawn of services like blogs, online shopping, and a slew of streaming services that let you enjoy your favorite programs at the click of a button.

It is no surprise then that the adoption of online streaming resulted in multiple anime streaming services, some worldwide like that of Crunchyroll and Funimation whilst others are region exclusive like Australia’s Anime Lab.

Yet there are some streaming sites that whilst not primarily anime focused still carry a large collection of anime, one of them being the biggest streaming site on the world Netflix.

Despite Netflix not having an extended history when it comes to streaming anime over the last couple of years, its rapid expansion into the industry has done a lot to both hurt and help the anime industry as a whole.

How Netflix Handles Anime

The biggest change that Netflix has made when it comes to streaming anime is how and when animes are being released.

Since the inception of anime, the release structure has always followed a similar formula to that of most tv shows releasing one new episode per week, yet when Netflix entered the field of anime streaming, they flipped that formula on its head.

Netflix has always been rooted in the concept of binge-watching and thus when they started to produce their own content they adopted the premise of releasing an entire series at once, but despite Netflix not being the ones creating their so-called “Netflix Original” animes they still follow the same binge-watching procedure most of their real original content follows releasing a series as a whole not episode by episode.

A prime example of this release practice is Saiki Kusuo no Ψ Nan series, which was originally disturbed by Crunchyroll in most regions but once the second season was announced Netflix obtained the streaming rights.

Netflix then announced the second season would be available to stream mid-June a full 5 months after the series initially debuted.

To add insult to injury fans only received half of the season and had to wait an additional 2 months for the other half despite the season already being completed.

In all, to watch the complete second season of the series fans had to wait a total of 9 months since the initial Japanese release of the series in contrast if Netflix were to have have followed the traditional weekly release schedule fans could have enjoyed an episode a week for 6 months.

Another more recent example of their odd release schedules is that Netflix obtained the rights for Beast Star a series that garnered a lot of attention and praise from fans that actually got to see the series, since in the markets where Netflix holds the exclusive rights the show will not be available to stream until March 2020 a full 6 months after the series started.

Having the ability to watch a complete series in one day might sound appealing but having to wait months compared to fans in other parts of the world is definitely not.

The Best Anime on Netflix

Another major change that Netflix has made in the realm of anime streaming is in the form of how they handle exclusive rights and subsequently how they follow a “less is more” approach to its content library.

What makes Netflix interesting compared to other streaming sites like Crunchyroll, Funimation, or even Hulu is the way they curate the animes they add.

Ever since Netflix began streaming anime, it has only added series that are proven to be big hits and thus have a wide mass appeal, like that of Sword art online, Death Note, and One Punch Man.

These titles are ones that have always appeared “Top 10 Animes for Beginners” lists among other lists or articles that prove their appeal not just for anime fans but also for general audiences.

Over the last few years, Netflix has also started to gain exclusive streaming rights to anime, and whilst having exclusive streaming rights to a series is nothing new, Netflix has proven over and over that you only need 1 exclusive series a season to bring people over to their site.

The most prominent example of this is the Nanatsu no Taizai franchise, which is one of the top anime on Netflix because it has been an exclusive since it debuted back in 2014.

The series was based on one of the most popular manga at the time and Netflix saw its value securing the rights before anyone else could and the success that the series garnered is essentially what kickstarted Netflix getting more involved in streaming anime.

Over the past few years, Netflix has also poached the rights to other series that were seen as guaranteed hits like that of Violet Evergarden and Kakegurui among a few others.

Netflix also has expanded its library to obtain older yet still popular series like that of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, K-On and dozens more.

Netflix has the resources and capital to obtain the rights to almost any anime series they want, yet it deliberately adds just a few titles with the biggest mass appeal every couple of months to cater to a more general audience whilst still obtaining the rights to at least a couple of recent animes to ensure their more established anime fans still stick around.

Impact on the Anime Industry 

The impact that Netflix has and will have on the anime streaming scene has the potential to either hurt or help the entire industry.

Netflix has a user base larger than all of the anime streaming apps combined, with a staggering 60 million users within the United States alone. In comparison, Crunchyroll has 2 million paid subscribers worldwide.

Netflix’s massive userbase ensures that when they add an anime to their site there is a huge probability of it being exposed to tens of millions of people all at once.

The added exposure will be good for the industry as more and more people will gain an interest in anime and that might result in them going out and purchasing merchandise, going to conventions, or taking part in something else that will stimulate the anime industry.

On the other hand, their practice to stream a series only once it has been completed is honestly hurting the industry as it robs a series from potentially adding millions to its fanbase.

Restricting access to a series for upwards of 9 months after its initial release will hurt not only its popularity but might impact the revenue of the franchise since the hype around a series will most likely die down once Netflix releases the series, hurting the chances of someone spending money on merchandise or the source material.

Netflix also has no good reason to release a series a few months after it has ended since, recently, it has begun both licensing and producing content that is being streamed on a week to week basis and if it can deliver multiple Korean Dramas weekly, it can do the same for anime.

There is no denying the positive impact that Netflix has had, introducing anime to millions of homes among other things yet their unconventional practices will continue to hurt them in the long run and result in the users who discovered anime through Netflix leaving the service in favor of a more established and polished anime streaming service.