Last week Crunchyroll, the largest anime streaming service, announced that it has surpassed more than 1 million paid subscribers and over 20 million registered users. This milestone builds on the record growth the company achieved in 2016, growing paid subscribers by 36 percent in the last 12 months. Crunchyroll users stream over 1.5 billion minutes of anime per month to more than 1 billion devices around the world. According to Crunchyroll, the service is available in every single country.
“The past year hasn’t just been big for Crunchyroll, it was huge for anime itself,” said Kun Gao, General Manager of Crunchyroll, in a press release. “We are seeing more fans pop up all over the world, hit shows like Yuri!!! on ICE breaking through to mainstream audiences, and anime as a medium being utilized in more creative ways, like in Porter Robinson’s music video, ‘SHELTER.’ Here at Crunchyroll, we have always been super passionate about anime, but it’s great to see the content we love catching on with a broader audience.”
Operating under an ad-supported freemium model with both free and paid offerings, Crunchyroll says it is the top destination and platform for Japanese anime and Asian content, delivering more than 800 titles, 25,000 episodes and 15,000 hours licensed content from Asian media producers.
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Some of its hit shows include Naruto Shippuden, Attack on Titan, One Piece, Dragon Ball Super, Gintama and Blue Exorcist. Crunchyroll is available on a variety of platforms including iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows phone, PlayStation 3, 4 and Vita, Xbox Live, 360 and One, Apple TV, Roku, Nintendo WiiU, smart TVs and set-top boxes.
A subscription gives users access to all anime and manga, an ad-free experience in HD and simulcasts from Japanese as early as one hour after a program’s broadcast in Japan. Crunchyroll has two premium tiers, one at $6.95 a month and the other at $11.95 a month, following a 14-day free trial. The $11.95 version comes with a few added benefits including free shipping in the US on eligible products, VIP convention perks, entries into exclusive contests, exclusive premium+ virtual badge and early access to best test new features.
Crunchyroll also announced it will host Crunchyroll Expo, a three-day convention for anime, manga, video game, cosplay and Asian entertainment enthusiasts. The event will feature speakers, vendors, unique exhibits and immersive activations. In the past, Crunchyroll has participated in other conventions. Now it will host its own from August 25 to 27 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
“Crunchyroll has always invested in anime conventions. It’s the best way to interact with our biggest fans, and with Crunchyroll Expo, we’re taking the best aspects of con-life and going next-level,” said Dallas Middaugh, head of events at Crunchyroll, in a press release. “Crunchyroll has a special relationship with our fans and we’re uniquely positioned to give back to those fans with an incredible experience.”
According to the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), in 2015, the anime industry was worth $18.1 billion. Part of the industry’s success was attributed to the sale of streaming rights in China, but also an increase in anime-related events and exhibits. With more than 1 million paid subscribers and its own expo this summer, Crunchyroll will get its share of the anime pie.
Amazon Prime is hoping to get its share too, launching its own anime channel, Anime Strike, last month. Though the price point is lower – $4.99 a month – Anime Strike doesn’t have nearly the amount of content available. It offers more than 1,000 episodes. Crunchyroll has the competitive advantage with significantly more content and both free and paid versions.
The bottom line: anime is big business, streaming services are capitalizing on that, and fans are responding. They want more, and Crunchyroll is in a position to deliver.