The New York Times has an article in today's paper which gives some insight into how and why mainstream services such as Hulu and Netflix and cable channels look at anime, as anime such as Naruto: Shippuden appears on the most watched list alongside major TV shows such as Glee.
The article goes into how Hulu and Netflix take a strong interest in niche content because of its comparatively low price and good viewer numbers versus mainstream media content. For anime, Hulu pays the anime distributor a small portion of the advertising revenue and Netflix pays a small licensing fee in most cases, allowing them to easily build up a large library of content.
The article also explains the parallels between this strategy and what cable networks such as G4, IFC, and Spike did in the early days, giving a glimpse into the thinking that goes into Adult Swim's somewhat infamous love-hate (or hate-hate if you prefer) relationship with anime:
“We’re not interested in paying a lot of money for anime because that targeted audience has so many different ways to see it before it goes on our air,” said Mike Lazzo, senior vice president for programming and production at Adult Swim.
“Every once in a while we look and say we could gain a rating point here and there, but we’d rather be more interesting and edgy from a programming standpoint, and that means anime,” Mr. Lazzo said.
Lastly, the article reveals that FUNimation signed a deal with Hulu this month to stream 5 titles on Hulu within 48 hours of broadcast in Japan. FUNimation has not specifically announced all the titles in press releases yet, but based on the most recently added anime to Hulu, Guilty Crown, Last Exile ~Fam the Silver Wing~, Future Diary, and Maken-ki are probably four of them while the fifth title is probably another FUNico title, with the third Kadokawa series, C3, being the easy suspect.
The full article can be read on the New York Times Website or on page B1 of today's New York Edition.
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