Anime Network Sets Sights on 24/7

Aug 11, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Apparently, on-demand users have an appetite for anime.
The Anime Network, an on-demand package of Japanese animation, is the second-highest-rated on-demand category in its two Comcast VOD markets of Philadelphia and northern New Jersey, second only to movies, according to the Anime Network.
In addition, the network is tops in views per user, which is how many times a viewer buys Anime Network each month, said Cathy Rasenberger, president of Rasenberger Media, which handles distribution and marketing for the Anime Network. Comcast would not confirm the figures, but said Anime Network is one of its most popular on-demand networks.
Anime Network launched as a VOD service late last year and offers about 20 hours of content per month in the Japanese animation genres of sci-fi, comedy, martial arts and action. The network is carried in some Comcast VOD markets and by Cablevision and overbuilder RCN. The service is generating about eight to 10 buys per month.
Ms. Rasenberger believes that the network can leverage its early success to move from an on-demand channel to a linear network. “Our goal is to demonstrate demand to launch a 24/7 network within a year,” she said.
The anime fan is extremely loyal and buys about three to five DVDs per month at $30 each, she said.
“We had to demonstrate the size of the audience for anime and educate the cable industry about the genre,” she said. “If you don’t have a teenage boy at home, you probably aren’t aware of how much a part of the pop culture anime has become.”
Building a linear network from an on-demand one can be challenging. But Anime is owned by A.D. Vision, the parent company to anime distributor ADV Films, which has about 1,500 hours of anime programming in its stable to use for a 24/7 channel launch. “The cost of launching is relatively insignificant. We don’t need a huge network, but could launch with 100,000 subs,” she said.
Challenges Loom
The Anime Network model is an interesting angle to use to build carriage, but it has its challenges, said Bruce Leichtman, analyst with Leichtman Research Group.
“Driving consumers to lesser-known content, particularly when it may be somewhat hidden as part of a VOD offering, is not an easy thing to do,” he said.
“As a new network, it is not a bad idea for Anime to build on its inherent niche appeal to an audience who is aware of what they are programming, but they should not rely on VOD to propel them into carriage.”