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anime hit by 7.7bn pirate visits

With Japan the Country of Honour at this year’s MIPCOM, anime, the country’s flagpole format, once again becomes a major acquisition focus for the film and television market across three days in the Palais de Festivals.

In this special report for the market, content protection, data-analytics and piracy audience reconnection solutions provider MUSO is reporting for the first time on a piracy audience making a total of 7.7 billion visits, highlighting the format’s ability in engaging a wide audience demographic worldwide, both offline, and online.

MUSO’s Market Insights platform has focused its attention on anime specific content, recording total visits to unlicensed anime video sites globally of 7.7 billion from January to December 2015. This piracy audience is peppered across the globe – from Brazil to Indonesia. Much like the genre, its audience is growing and increasingly diverse, and accounts for just under 10 per cent of the total visits to film and television piracy sites in 2015 (78.49 billion – MUSO’s Global Film & TV Piracy Insights Report 2016).

In this insight report, MUSO is specifically looking outside of the sinosphere, where the USA easily leads in anime piracy consumption. With a total 1.86 billion visits to anime piracy sites, USA also tops the streaming chart with the most visits at 1.81 billion and second after Taiwan for download piracy site visits (45 million). Considering the USA’s swelling population and high Internet penetration rate (84.2 per cent), MUSO suggests that it is “unsurprising” it holds the lead in the anime piracy charts.

South America’s strong interest for the genre also dominates MUSO’s piracy statistics, while notably, half of the countries in the global top ten for piracy visits includes nations who, despite having a booming population, have relatively low Internet penetration rates – Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Indonesia and the Philippines. The latter two countries are at the doorstep of Japan and China, where anime is the cornerstone in entertainment.

But is being in such close geographical proximity, a likely piracy driver, ponders MUSO. A younger, similar audience demographic could explain this cultural export of anime via piracy networks. Yet, geographical and cultural distance doesn’t deter the illegal export of anime, with Brazil coming in second in the rankings after the US, a nation with only half of its population connected to the Internet and an anime audience of 347 million. Brazil isn’t the only country in South America with such a large anime audience – with the aforementioned audiences in Mexico and Chile also present on the chart with 330 million visits to anime piracy sites for the former and 182 million for the latter.

According to MUSO, it isn’t necessarily the growing Internet penetration that is promoting these audiences to download from infringing sites – anime has faced criticism from fans unable to watch current shows. OTT providers are now providing a good baseline of classic films and series, and a surprising variety of new and old content. But with an often incomplete slate for a particular series, or slow air date for new content, dedicated global anime audiences already exposed to classic titles may be assuming their local OTT services just aren’t able to satisfy their needs for up-to-the-minute content.

With a nod to this, there has recently been a strong initiative for the Japanese content industry to start benefiting from the emergence of new OTT platforms, which would not only increase the global audience reach for anime but for all genres of Japanese content, and potentially revive the interest in past content, as new generations and demographics become more engaged. According to Fuji TV’s Maekawa, there have been successful new partnerships with several East and Southeast Asian OTT platforms, which will hopefully become a “passage to deliver content without the concern of various local restrictions and limited broadcast slots. There are still regions that are unenthusiastic for Japanese content due to restrictions or cultural background, but thanks to OTT platforms, our creations can be a part of the niche category and brought to light even in these reluctant areas.”

Canada, Germany, France and the UK are also present in MUSO’s top ten anime piracy chart. With a total of 1.13 billion views, they compromise 14.56 per cent of total global anime piracy.  With the UK only having 89k fewer anime piracy site visits than Brazil, it highlights that the demand for anime remains buoyant in the Western markets, already served with a vast range of OTT services.

As anime extends further into diverse demographics worldwide, timely availability will also become crucial for reducing piracy. “The speedier we place out content on OTT platforms, the better it is for us to prevent pirated versions through the Internet,” suggested Nippon TV’s President, International Business Development Atsushi Hatayama.

As buyers from all four corners of the globe hit Cannes for another busy week of negotiations, so it seems audiences worldwide are also seeking out anime across cultures, and borders. Beyond 2016, the challenge will be in delivering this popular content format more rapidly to a bigger global audience, helping them engage directly with the rights owner, instead of the piracy market, concludes MUSO.


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