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Revisiting Crunchyroll after several months; impressed by improvements and business model!
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Posted 12/13/08 , edited 12/13/08
Hi.

I'm not really active on the Crunchyroll forums, but I've been a Crunchyroll member for quite a while now. I've been absent from this site for several months, but I recently decided to take a look again. I'm very impressed by what you've done, which is why I've taken the time to write this long post, and I would be honored if the administrator of this site reads this.

Why am I impressed by Crunchyroll? One might be inclined to think that I'm talking about all the new bells and whistles, such as Crunchyland, chatrooms, statistics, etc. But that's not it; I'm actually impressed by how you operate this site and your business model.

Crunchyroll's viability
Let me start by saying that I'm a huge anime fan; I've been watching anime and reading manga for almost a decade now. As a Crunchyroll member, I had donated several times and I had also signed up for a premium account for several months. I'm in my twenties and I'm the owner of an IT company. As an IT guy I know that bandwidth is expensive. I know that operating a video site costs a lot of money, which is why I signed up for a premium account. Several months ago, only premium members may view videos in high quality. You can probably understand why I'm very surprised that nowadays all members can view videos in high quality, and even H264! The once so prominent "Donate"/"Premium" link now seems to be buried under a ton of links, and is generally hard to find. As a businessman, my alarm bells immediately started to ring. I was wondering how it's at all possible that you can keep this site up and running; surely advertisements don't make *that* much revenue? Bandwidth costs should be an order of magnitude higher.

I've read on other sites, such as Baka-Updates, that you've signed a deal with major anime producers in Japan. In return for a subscription fee, one can stream anime online. Brilliant!

The problem with anime distribution
I'm about to state something very controversial, but please hear me out: practically everybody nowadays is downloading anime through Bittorrent. I know that most anime websites' forum moderators will immediately scream "piracy!", but nevertheless, it is the truth. A lot of anime is distributed every day through the Internet, in the form of Bittorrent, YouTube, IRC file transfers, FTP, etc. Anime website moderators typically discourage people from downloading anime (e.g. by removing download links) and encourage them to "go buy the DVDs" in order to "support the producers". But in my eyes this is like sticking your head into the sand. Now don't get me wrong, the producers definitely need to be supported. Producing anime costs money, and the producers should make a profit from their work. But at the same time, one cannot deny the sheer amount of material that is distributed via the Internet, for free.

So what's the problem? Let's see:
- A small group of people encourage the large majority to buy the DVDs, but obviously the majority will just download the material from the Internet.
- While buying the DVDs is an option, I doubt that I'm the only person who thinks that this option is one that is less than ideal. DVDs can cost as much as 30 euros (about $40) for only 5 episodes. Expensive! Although I've been watching anime for almost a decade now, I only own a single anime DVD simply because it's so expensive. Thanks but no thanks.
- In the country where I live, there exists an anime/manga magazine. The anime/manga reviews in this magazine are always lagging behind the fansubs by several years. This is the biggest reason why I never read this magazine, they have nothing new to tell me. I once asked why they're always lagging behind, and they told me that they're following the DVD releases, not the fansubs. Endorsing fansubs is considered a sin. I can fully understand why, but this still ignores the fact that most people watch fansubs.
- DVD releases take too long. Waaay too long. After a series has been licensed I have to wait a whole year before the first DVD release. This is unacceptable if I was already following a series.
- DVDs take too much space. Where am I supposed to store my 100 Bleach DVDs?

And this is exactly what I mean by sticking one's head into the sand. The producers, and the people who have ties to them, seem to be completely disconnected from the consumers.
People can tell me not to download anime and to buy the DVDs instead, but I won't for the aforementioned reasons.

What can be done about this?

Solution part 1: lower the price!
I have 2 bookcases full of manga, simply because these are much cheaper. For as little as 7 euros (about $10) I get 180 pages worth of material, *much* more than the anime/DVD equivalent. DVDs are simply not cost-effective and are overpriced. They're so overpriced that the manga companies make a lot more money from me than the anime companies, even though the manga companies make less money per sold unit.

Solution part 2: embrace online distribution
The concept that Crunchyroll implements is nothing revolutionary. Multimedia subscription services have existed for years, but I've always wondered why the anime industry, and the video industry in general, is always lagging behind technology so much.

Apple is making tons and tons and tons of profit by selling music via iTunes, while nowadays the traditional music industry (which sells CDs via offline distribution channels) is barely running break-even. Apple has proven that online distribution is the future. Heck, consumers have proven that online distribution is the future, and they have for years. So why is the video industry lagging behind? Why is the anime industry lagging behind? Surely the anime industry can make a lot more money if only they embrace this technology called the Internet, and offer an online service with which people can buy anime for a low price. Since everything is online, there are no DVD manufacturing costs involved. In theory the producer can sell directly to the consumers, thereby eliminating all middle-man parties and thus lowering the end price.

I sure as heck am not going to buy 50 Bleach DVDs with 4 episodes each and $23 per DVD (http://www.animenation.com/d-bh01.html)! But if I can pay, say, $10-$15 per month for an online anime subscription service with which I can watch the same amount of anime as I can now through Bittorrent, then I won't even hesitate!

Solution part 3: introduce the commercial equivalent of fansubs
As stated before, I find it unacceptable that I have to wait a year before commercial translations are available. I don't want to wait until I've almost forgotten about a series before I can continue watching it, and I'm sure a lot of people agree.

What's so hard about translation? If fansubbers, people who work for free and don't have a degree in Japanese, can push out translations faster than commercial companies and with reasonable quality, then something is very very very wrong. It almost feels like we're being scammed by the commercial translators.

If the anime producers can get their act together and introduce some kind of speedsubbing service, and provide it online for a reasonable fee, then I'd be happy to pay for it.

Is Crunchyroll the solution?
It looks like Crunchyroll is exactly the solution that I'm describing. There's a ton of anime available on this website. Video quality is decent. Subtitles are decent. Releases are fast. Subscription fees are very affordable. I'm willing to pay for Crunchyroll's service. I'm not willing to pay for the DVD's.

To the entire Crunchyroll staff: please keep up the good work! I'm not sure whether Crunchyroll is an official business, but if you are or if you want to become one, then you have my financial support!

Please don't let people like these discourage you:

can't afford it...im still a student....><
and even if my parents have money...(not dollars) they won't let me....
besides....wat's the big deal on these....i can just wait for it...XD

~~PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE.~~


sorry, can't afford it. I'm broke (the student life for ya)


Puh-leease, it's just $6 per month for the cheapest subscription. Surely you spend more money on food in a week than $6! If you can't even afford $6 then why are you wasting your time behind a computer instead of getting a job?

Sorry for this lengthy post, I'm just very excited about Crunchyroll and I hope that this site has a bright (commercial?) future. As a business man I admire you for having brought anime distribution into the 21st century. Thank you for finally opening the production companies' eyes. Prior to posting this forum message, I only had 3 CR points. I bought 5000 CR points for $50 just to post this message. This is an example of how far I'm willing to go to support Crunchyroll!

I also hope that the other Cruncyroll members realize in what kind of unique situation we're in, instead of complaining about being broke.
Posted 12/13/08
you really took your time writing all that...
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25 / F / In my ZONE!!!
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Posted 12/13/08
I am not broke but I don't watch anime in the first place, I only come on here for the forums and to see if there is anything new going on in the Asian world lol and ofcourse to talk with my friends hehe
Posted 12/13/08
Yeah, Crunchyroll has gone very far in the past.. 2 years? lol. I would definitely want to support CR, but I don't have any money and my family doesn't even know what anime is. (They're totally against me using the internet D=) A lot of my friends on CR gave me some badges on my Birthday, so I guess that was .. ok? xD


I just hope CR doesn't go overboard, you know. Sell out? :x I trust Shinji.
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F / Youtube!
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Posted 12/13/08
I'm with you on this. Of course it's not fair on the companies for people to be downloading illegally, but if they did more to make the animes readily available in the western world in particular, illegal downloads would be a lot less popular.
Though, I think it'd make more sense to be writing to the anime companies with this, rather than informing us little crunchyrollers.
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Posted 12/13/08
o_o
i didn't even read it...
was so long xD
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21 / F / My body lives in...
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Posted 12/13/08
i will read later
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Posted 12/13/08 , edited 12/13/08

Though, I think it'd make more sense to be writing to the anime companies with this, rather than informing us little crunchyrollers.


Yes perhaps I should be writing to the anime companies, but they seem so distant. Maybe it's the physical distance, maybe it's the language and culture barrier, maybe it's because they seem so impersonal that I have the feeling that every email I send to them will never be read; I'm not sure. But I'm posting on Crunchyroll because this site is actually making it happen. This website is actually providing a usable, low-cost, low-barrier-to-entry service. One that I'm more than willing to pay for.

The anime companies need to understand that in order to have my feedback and my money, they must lower economical and social barriers as much as possible.
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Posted 12/13/08
i don't care about any of this anime stuff. they should ask some drama companies if they would sub their shows and release them on here.
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Posted 12/13/08
Agreed. I would also be willing to pay for a similar service for Asian dramas.
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AHTL 
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Posted 12/13/08
A fine post. I must say I agree, I find it rather annoying that an anime is split up in 4+ dvds and that I have to pay a big amount for just a small part of the series.

Crunchyroll is rather ground breaking with its partnership and legal streaming of anime. CR has developed rapidly and successfully.



To those that didn't read it, why comment then? Are you proud of being unable to read a post longer than 4 sentences? I find it ridiculous.

Too long, didn't read: You're illiterate.
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25 / M / Vancouver, Washin...
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Posted 12/13/08
eh, truly Idc. I'm in here for a free ride, thats all that matters to me
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29 / M / Japan
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Posted 12/13/08

FooBarWidget wrote:



First of all, I just want to comment on the decorum in this thread. For crying out loud, if you want to bitch about the length of the first post, just shut the hell up. You're not funny when you try to sound sarcastic and you're just making a fool of yourself. If you're going to post, at the very least, try and add to the discussion instead of making yourself look like some obnoxious troller.

But back to the main topic at hand, I'm glad you're impressed with the new services that the site has to offer. Crunchyroll, indeed, is taking a big step in the anime industry by acting as a distributing arm for anime companies to bring their releases to the world pretty much at the same time as they would release in Japan. The problem lies in the fact that the budget restrictions that most anime producers have cannot cover distribution costs on a global scale. Though it seems rather unbelievable, English subbing costs in Japan are very expensive, and producers, themselves, aren't even aware if a certain anime product they have will sell well in other countries, simply because they don't consider other countries when they do their feasibility ("sellability") studies for the show they're trying to distribute.

And the result is a stockpile of anime that takes a few years before international distributors get their hands on, and a marked overhaul on the price of distribution, which includes the weighty, but unnecessary, cost for dubbing these anime ~ which I bet many of you will agree with me, to a certain extent, sucks like living hell.

Just to clear up what you were wondering regarding the streaming services in CR, we're able to sustain the bandwidth cost because of investors, not necessarily because of the tie-up with Japanese Corporations and Licensing companies. However, it is nice that CR has been given the privilege of distributing licensed titles, many of which are my old favorites. The only problem I see with this system is that obscure, but good titles from relatively small firms might not get the chance to avail of this opportunity ~ but that's a future endeavor that hopefully might be exploited. Besides, I'm one to believe that anime is more than simply Naruto, Bleach or Shugo Chara. If we could get the chance to show a full length movie on the same day it shows at the Ikebukero Sunshine cinema, then by jove I think we've succeeded in bridging the gap between the anime culture of Japan and the world.

All-in-all, I'm glad to see you're pleased with what CR has become over the past few months. With that, I hope you continue your patronage with us, and hope for more great news in the future.
Posted 12/13/08
Well it's true, cr grew during the time I've been a member here, sort of sucks, but it doesn't matter now that I dun't come here for the manga.
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Posted 12/13/08
i havent been here for awhile also
and im very impressed and proud
of the big strides this place has made
from when i was here before.
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