Last week Amazon launched its first branded subscription video-on-demand channel, Anime Strike, available to Amazon Prime members in the U.S. The new, ad-free subscription service offers more than 1,000 episodes and is available for $4.99 a month, following a seven-day free trial. The channel includes a variety of popular series, exclusives, action series, top movies and dubbed series including:
- Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
- The Great Passage
- Chi’s Sweet Adventure
- Soul Eater
- No Game
“Enhance Your Prime Video experience with a subscription to Anime strike, serious anime, from seinen (youth) classics to exclusives from Japan. New episodes very week,” says the Anime Strike website.
Why did Amazon choose anime as its first branded subscription video-on-demand channel? According to Amazon vice president Michael Paull who spoke to Variety, the anime audience is sizable as well as dedicated and the audience is underserved in the U.S.
“With anime in particular, there’s a strong, passionate audience that is underserved by traditional pay TV,” said Paull. “We tend to focus on our customers and their needs, and our big difference is that we’re using the data we have as Amazon to know the type of programming that would excite our audience.
While this is Amazon’s first branded series, it offers more than 80 channels on Amazon Prime including premium add-ons like Showtime and Starz. Amazon will continue to add more branded channels, but is not yet disclosing what genres they will launch next.
In other Amazon news, Amazon announced that it is launching an original kids’ series – Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter – in the U.S. and U.K. later this month. Already popular in Japan, the show is based on the popular kids’ fantasy book series by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Amazon also announced this week that it is going on a hiring spree, hiring 10,000 more employees in the U.S. over the next 18 months.
Amazon has become the gold standard in the subscription world, constantly adding new offerings for its Prime members. It strives for quality customer service and affordability, and because of its sheer size, it can add new products regularly without raising its costs. In the last year, it has added more functionality with new channels, new music subscription products, and now add-ons to its Amazon Prime Video channels. It seems unlikely that even a retail giant like Walmart can fully compete with Amazon, though there are areas where Amazon and Walmart will compete head to head.