What does Krystallina think about the path Amazon's taking with anime? Complete with baseball references, here's her thoughts on the service.
Last week, I wrote about Amazon muscling in on Barnes & Noble’s territory. Well, this week, Amazon is taking on the next logical competition: Crunchyroll and FUNimation.
By now, you’ve almost certainly heard of Anime Strike, Amazon’s new premium anime subscription channel. In fact, it’s already been discussed on here. For $4.99 a month, Prime members can gain access to a variety of shows. Some, like Scum’s Wish and Chi’s Sweet Adventure, are exclusives. Other shows have been licensed and/or streamed by companies like Crunchyroll, Sentai Filmworks, and FUNimation (Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Ouran High School Host Club). Movies like Akira and Paprika are also included.
Well, now that Anime Strike is up to bat, will Amazon strike out, or is there a potential for a base hit or even a home run? Batter up!
Pitch #1: The creation of another streaming site.
A lot of people are upset by the fact there’s yet another anime streaming site. “Anime should be all in one place!” they claim.
Well, yeah, that would be nice. But almost every form of entertainment is divided up. You don’t get all the comedy shows on Comedy Central, not every movie theater carries the latest flicks, and even the biggest big-box stores don’t carry every product. Sure, it would be easier if people could Google “watch anime” and get only one result. That’s not how it works though.
In addition, monopolies are not good for consumers. If there was a site that could stream every single anime show, prices would most likely rise for two reasons. First, they would have to cover the costs of both the popular shows and the flops. A studio making an adaptation of a worldwide manga hit almost certainly wants more money than an anime with no established fanbase. Secondly, this supposedly-ideal site could charge whatever they wanted; after all, what other legal option is there? Then fans will turn to unofficial sites, revenue falls, and the site either has to make cutbacks or raise the price.
It’s also good that a major retailer recognizes the potential in the anime market. A big name like Amazon can help spread anime, especially when Google results show far too many illegal streaming sites. Yes, it’s a bit annoying to have to keep track of all the different sites and who-has-what, but that happens with Amazon Video, Netflix, etc.
Pitch #2: The selection.
Yes, the offerings are on the slim side. One thousand episodes sounds pretty impressive until you consider that shows like One Piece and Naruto almost reach that threshold alone on Crunchyroll. It’s still early though. Crunchyroll hardly had an impressive library at the beginning.
Pitch #3: The cost.
Technically, $4.99 a month is less than the competitor’s offerings. However, at least for now, the selection is also a lot smaller.
The real issue is that Anime Strike requires a Prime membership. Prime includes a lot benefits, chiefly free shipping on most items. However, this $5 add-on model doesn’t really benefit anyone. If you already have Prime, you are probably upset Anime Strike is not already built in to the regular Amazon Prime Video. Not a Prime member? The opportunity to watch some anime shows for an additional $5 a month is hardly going to be what pushes you into subscribing.
Yes, as this article points out, even $15 a month to really watch one exclusive is still cheaper than one anime box set. But for most people — especially right now when the Anime Strike-only library is rather small — there are plenty of alternatives. Can’t watch Chi’s Sweet Adventure? Go rewatch Chi’s Sweet Home. Instead of watching Scum’s Wish, go read it as a part of Crunchyroll’s Premium subscription. Want to watch Akame ga KILL! dubbed? Settle for the subtitled version.
Pitch #4: Accessibility.
Well, this is three-fold. I’ve already covered the problem with making Anime Strike only available to Prime members. That’s a big issue.
However, Anime Strike is available to watch on a variety of devices since it’s part of the Amazon Video app. So whether you want to watch anime on your computer screen, TV screen, or mobile device, viewers have multiple options.
The next issue is the withholding of licenses. The Great Passage not only didn’t air in the U.S. site, but not that it’s available, it requires Anime Strike! In comparison, the same series streams as part of Prime Video in on Amazon.co.uk and on other Amazon sites.
Considering Amazon is an American company, it just seems strange — if not downright unfair that their other versions gets shows that the U.S. Amazon doesn’t.
Pitch #5: Fan outreach.
Well, the vice-president of Amazon Digital Video has given an interview, but the content pretty much boils down to, “‘Sall good.” It doesn’t really give specifics, and the early fan response has, overall, hardly been positive. Is the Internet just being the Internet and complaining, or are there valid complaints?
Of course, I wouldn’t expect a company as big as Amazon to be as otaku-centric as the anime-only sites. And considering Amazon has given a statement and hasn’t thrown a temper tantrum or done anything crazy like some other ventures, I’m calling it…
Call: Foul ball.
Pitch #6: The future.
So, Amazon, you already have two strikes. Sure you have a little breathing room since you only have
two balls have the name recognition and the finances to support Anime Strike, but it’s not a good way to start off your at-bat. It’s well into the game, and your fan appeal is going down thanks to more items being classified as add-ons and eliminating post-order price guarantee.
But you’re not going to get very far if you’re relying on walking around the bases. Prime Video was a home run. Including anime was a double. Anime Strike, at this rate, is going to be– at best — one base by default unless something changes.