In an announcement today ahead of this weekend's Anime Expo, Viz Media announced the forthcoming launch of a new 24-hour online network dedicated to Japanese animation with a bit of a twist. The new network, known as "Neon Alley," will make its debut on yet to be named "major console" online services beginning this Fall. The network requires a separate subscription in order to view the channel, at $6.99 per month with limited commercial breaks and will not be an on-demand service, instead behaving as an actual television network with original programming inbetween its scheduled anime programming.
Another key to the network is that all of the content will be shown uncut and in English, with the network hosting the English dub premieres of the first Berserk film, Zetman, Inuyasha: The Final Act and Tiger & Bunny along with other Viz Media catalog titles, though the network does plan to offer other studios and distributors the opportunity to premiere their shows on the network. For Viz Media to make this announcement ahead of Anime Expo shows that they are looking to get a head start on everyone else during the convention in terms of industry announcements as well as getting fans talking about the service.
It seems to have worked, as people are already curious about the initiative and are hoping to learn more in the future. With cable TV networks generally uninterested in anime and Toonami continuing to fall well below expectations in the ratings game despite months of demand, Neon Alley is poised to become a viable alternative for studios that want to showcase anime in English to a more casual audience, in the hope that it will increase its overall popularity.
One thing's for sure: This is an idea that's long overdue and I hope it works out for Viz.