When two giant companies both involved in streaming content start getting involved in anime that should be a good thing. Both Netflix and Amazon have way more money to spend than Crunchyroll so particularly when they get involved with the production that should certainly help. The problem is, both have shown they don’t understand that anime viewers are different from the market they currently have. Like my previous article I don’t expect anyone from either company to read this and most my critiques will be things people have already posted in anime communities. I am writing this both as an easy collection of criticism of something I’d like to see improved.
I’ll start with Netflix since I have the least to say about them.
Netflix usually grabs one or two shows a season and while I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them do a home release (despite doing home releases of their Netflix Originals) other companies can like Pony Canyon with Kuromukuro and Sentai Filmworks with Ajin, if the show is exclusive to them it is available in every country they stream to, which is probably most countries that would want to watch anime. They also dub everything they have in multiple languages. Netflix is one of the, if not the, biggest streaming services in the world. What could they possibly be doing wrong?
Netflix does not simulcast. You need to wait for a season to finish (usually 12-13 episodes) and then after about a month they’ll release it. While this isn’t an issue if I want to go watch Kuromukuro now it is if I want to watch Little Witch Academia, which a lot of people do. Netflix’s model is basically built around binge watching, and there’s a decent chunk of anime fans that only binge watch anime as well, but that’s not how the majority works. The reason this is worse now than ever is they have Little Witch Academia which is a TV version of a popular set of movies from Trigger which is one of the most popular studios in the west. Even if you did want to wait and support the series good luck. It’s being posted pretty much everywhere anime related right now. Can you blame people for giving in and finding other means? Making it even worse is the Japanese Netflix DOES simulcast anime and Netflix HAS done simulcast style releases in the past.
Now for Amazon who solved one of the biggest issues with their site then proceeded to cause an even bigger one.
For the longest time, Amazon Prime Video was only available in a small number of countries around the world and when Amazon got the rights for an anime, it is worldwide. This left the vast majority of countries looking forward to any Noitamina block show (popular programming block, has produced Anohana, ERASED, Kabaneri, Psycho Pass and this seasons’ Scum’s Wish) left with no other options since Amazon has worldwide exclusive rights to the block. Amazon also has terrible communication. Last season’s The Great Passage just wasn’t simulcast in the US. Why? That will brought up later.
Amazon Prime Video is also tied to Amazon Prime. If you are like me and just want anime and don’t care about any of the other perks that is $99 for a year (compared to Crunchyroll’s $59.95) without a student discount which brings the price down 50% but no free trial for streaming. For usually 1 or 2 shows a season this is way too much. Amazon’s back catalog is almost completely available on other legal streaming sites so it doesn’t even have that draw. Amazon made up for any good they had done by launching “Anime Strike”.
For an extra $5 a month on top of the $99/year (now $159/yr) you can access Anime Strike which is now where all anime is on Amazon. We are talking about a market that is very quick to resort to piracy and charging them $99 a year for the right to pay $5 more a month for 1 or 2 shows sure is a good way to convince them to do so. This tactic is also used by another industry that is losing its place in our society to streaming services. Cable TV.
This is what surprises me the most. Amazon has to know the reason people are “cutting the cord” and moving to streaming is because of not only being able to watch whenever you want, without commercial breaks, but because the cable companies were putting the channels people wanted on higher tiers requiring them to buy a bunch of crap no one wanted to watch, right? While for most Amazon Prime is worth the price without the streaming and they can just consider the $5 to be access to the anime like with Crunchyroll that’s not the case for everyone. Especially if they are tight on money.
These two massive companies could be helpful putting money in the anime industry but how they are currently acting it seems more like they’re scaring away customers to sail the seven seas (at least Netflix’s approach can bring new people in still) which the exact opposite of what they should want.