Free streaming becomes more popular in all the entertaining spheres – now it broke into the anime industry. How free offer attracts new anime fans – the answer is given by «Australian Neflix» – AnimeLab. 

Anime, since it appeared in 1958, swept the whole Japan and became an integral part of its pop-culture. Today this huge flow of animation is targeted at all the kinds of audiences, and there are even special hubs and places for its fans. It is obvious that anime gained popularity also in other countries. As for Australia, for a very long time mostly pupils or obsessed fans have consumed anime. However, times are changing. And since the Australian anime streaming service AnimeLab was launched last year, the audience of anime is broadening.

“It’s everything from pre-school kids watching Doraemon, to slightly older kids watching the likes of Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and the like”, Madman Entertainment co-founder and managing director Tim Anderson comments.

This trend is due to the free streaming on all the devices – from website to mobile phone or TV apps. Premium membership on AnimeLab is cost just $7 per month and opens free access to HD streams with no ads, the option of English audio (instead of subtitles) and momentary access to new episodes as they’re broadcast in Japan. Such an approach is much closer to Spotify than to Netflix, and it can necessitate a similar problem like in the music industry – people don`t want to pay for the content.

AnimeLab. Anime StreamingAnimeLab. Anime Streaming

“One of the places we hope to get audience from is actually piracy”, Anderson thinks. “By offering a free, almost catch-up TV style service, we believe that we’re eating into that part of the market. From the perspective of our Japanese partners, they see it as really positive because it’s monetising a segment of the market where previously piracy was quite rampant”.

Chris Mander, Madman creative director, also believe that the aim of free anime streaming is to low that barrier for entry and discovery – to open the world of anime to people who are new to it. “And then it’s about converting the heavier viewers, the fans, the ones who want to see shows fast-tracked from Japan earlier, giving them an upgrade option”, he adds.

One more reason for such AnimeLab policy is that market competitors also offer free streaming – for example, US service Crunchyroll also provide its product to Australians.


AnimeLab. Anime Streaming


However, Madman biggest advantage is its Australian roots and the ability to communicate with audience outside of streaming. The company, with its 20 years history, has about 90% share of the anime market in Australia. It produces box sets and collections, organises theatrical screenings of new films and takes part in many annual conventions around the country. And even hosts its inaugural Anime Festival in Melbourne.


AnimeLab. Anime Streaming


Anderson is sure that AnimeLabs strong ties and local content deals with Japanese creators gives a huge advantage on the streaming market. “We believe we’ve got the strongest content lineup in Australia. Anecdotal feedback from the fans, and our internal opinion, is that the user experience on our platform is better, especially on the web but also in our apps”, he says.

AnimeLab keeps analyzing its audience preferences to identify content that will satisfy both new and experienced users. «One area the service could do better in is curation of content», Anderson says. He means that AnimeLab presents lists but doesn`t have any recommendations, such Netflix. “As our platform grows and matures and an even broader audience comes in, we really need to think about how to curate more”, AnimeLab managing director comments.

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