Submitted by Anonymous through this form:
“People calling themselves “fans” are watching anime then they complain about low quality, shows not getting second seasons or wondering why moe or idol trash shows keep getting made. Can you tell the money being lost when people illegally watch anime?!“
Hi Anonymous, I can’t say exactly how much is being lost but we can do some math to try and guesstimate.
For the sake of clarity, I’m going to assume that torrenting is the same as streaming online and does not equate with DVD/Blu-Ray sales (since illegal watchers could feasibly buy a physical copy if they like the show.) I’ll just focus on the revenue lost for the anime industry when international viewers illegally streams shows.
Licensing numbers aren’t officially published anywhere online. This is mainly so studios and distributors can’t say “Naruto was $1 per stream and my show is the new Naruto!” It gives the Netflix, Crunchyroll, Hulu and Anime Networks of the world a chance to negotiate for better rates (or worse, if they have a bad negotiator).
Here’s a data point for Netflix from someone doing a rough estimate using published data online. Let’s assume all services use a similar pay per view model and not a flat rate or other model.
We’ll say an anime episode is like a TV episode (but cut in half since anime episodes are around 20 minutes so each episode is about $0.035). We don’t know if Netflix pays the average or more or less for anime and we don’t know if anime-specific sites pay better or worse for anime. So we’ll make a low estimate, a mid estimate and a high estimate to ballpark the revenue range that anime creators are losing out on.
Low estimate: Half of the Netflix 20 minute episode = $0.0175
Mid estimate: A typical Netflix 20 minute episode = $0.035.
High estimate: Double the Netflix 20 minute episode = $0.07
Now let’s look at some site’s views and estimate that revenue!
There have been about 4.4 million views of ERASED thus far through this illegal anime streaming site. If we apply the revenue per viewer, the Japanese creators of ERASED would have earned somewhere between $77,500 – $310,000 if the viewers of this site had legally streamed the show.
ERASED is a newer show. Let’s look at one of the most popular shows: One Piece.
There have been about 62.4 million views of One Piece. If we apply the revenue per viewer, the creators of One Piece would have earned between $1,091,000 – $4,365,000 from the viewers.
Those are both attractive shows so let’s look at a show that is ranked a little lower. Sakura Trick is a yuri that certain people LOVE, but many people haven’t explored.
There have been about 1.07 million views of Sakura Trick. If we apply the revenue per viewer, the creators of Sakura Trick would have earned between $19,000 – $75,000 from the viewers.
Looking at a show individually is helpful to estimate how it impacts the creators of each show, but I know people are interested in how it affects the entire anime industry. I can’t get accurate data on each streaming site/torrent but I can look at the user data of the site we’ve been looking at to get a rough estimate.
With the help of a data scientist, I was able to find the estimated number of people visiting that site in January 2016.
If we assume each person on that site is watching 2 shows that month and watching 6 episodes per show then (2,183,177 people * 2 shows * 6 episodes per show) that equals 26,198,124 views per month which is about $458,00 to 1,834,000.
That’s just January so if we assume that the site has similar traffic all year that’s $5,501,606 to $22,006,424. If we assume that there are at least 6 other streaming outlets (possibly in a language other than English, could be torrents or just a different site) then in a year the anime industry loses $33,009,636 to $132,038,544 due to viewers not watching legal streaming options.
Over 5 years, that’s $165,048,180 to $660,192,720.
The average anime budget per episode is $153,846 per episode. If half the viewers switched from illegal to legal streaming then there’d be $16,504,818 to $66,019,272 in just one year which could fund 107 to 429 episodes or 9 to 36 more anime seasons.
Over 5 years, that’s $82,524,090 to $330,096,360.
So basically, there would likely be more shows, higher quality, and possibly the pay for animators would be higher above the poverty line.
Now these are just very general guesstimates (it could be much higher or lower) but hopefully this helps the anonymous person who asked and everyone else out there see that one viewer might not seem like they’d make a difference to the industry but viewers add up over time and can be a lot of money.
Of course, if there are no legal options in your country, then you can’t help contribute to the industry. Although with global streaming sites like Daisuki and Netflix’s new anime, that’s slowly changing for the better.
Also if anyone feels like trying to legally stream when you can, here’s a list. (And you can totally just keep replaying the same episodes on mute when you’re on your computer, no one will ever know but an animator somewhere will thank you)