Crunchyroll fans subscribe to twice as many video services as non-anime viewers

Global anime viewership keeps growing and the average number of video subscriptions among Crunchyroll viewers far outpaces that of those who don’t watch anime, according to data from Interpret.

Interpret’s 2022 Animeasure scorecard on the anime market found Crunchyroll viewers subscribe to an average of seven video services compared to 3.5 for anime non-viewers.

And recent changes to the subscription service’s ad-supported tier, signals Crunchyroll is feeling market confidence, according to Interpret. In March, Crunchyroll disclosed that for new and continuing simulcasts for Spring 2022 and future seasonal releases, viewers would need a premium monthly or annual subscription. It means new episodes of new and continuing series won’t be available as an ad-supported free viewing option, but users can still access all previously released episodes and the existing Crunchyroll library for free.

It's in contrast to platforms like Disney+, which earlier this month announced it would be introducing a new ad-supported tier this year as it looks to reach 230 million 260 million subscribers by 2024.

Crunchyroll is a leading anime-focused subscription streaming service that had an early launch in 2006. It was owned by AT&T but sold to Sony in a $1.17 billion deal that closed in August 2021. At that time Crunchyroll had surpassed a 5 million subscriber and 120 million registered user milestone.  

“An ad-supported tier is an excellent way to expand the user base, but if growth is not an issue it may be unnecessary,” Interpret wrote in an April 13 blog.

The blog pointed to data showing how anime sustained its pandemic-era viewership in 2021, with continued global anime viewership growth expected to “naturally drive more subscribers to Crunchyroll.”

“As viewership continues to rise, Crunchyroll’s profile will rise with it, mitigating the risk of it getting relegated to ‘niche status’,” according to the research and analysis firm.

The Sony deal also means Crunchyroll combines with anime video rival Funimation, bringing more additions to its content library. And Interpret thinks the ad-supported phase out shows Crunchyroll isn’t too concerned with more recent movers in the anime category.

“While AMC, Netflix, and Disney have all made major moves into the anime space recently, the elimination of an ad-supported tier suggests that Crunchyroll is still quite confident in its competitive positioning, and is not worried about ceding viewers to these later-to-arrive, more generalist platforms,” the blog continued.

The combo of Crunchyroll and Funimation also could mean one less service consumers need to subscribe to, the firm noted. Fatigue around the number of subscription video services available has been cropping up across categories. Recent Nielsen data showed 64% of viewers desire a bundled streaming service, and 46% said it's harder to find content they want because of too many options.

With Crunchyroll viewers’ subscription count even higher than general viewers, consolidating with Funimation could take at least one out of the equation.

“Crunchyroll likely expects to convert fans who previously paid for Funimation but watched Crunchyroll ad-supported into Crunchyroll subscribers,” wrote Interpret. “The consolidation of the two services also exponentially increases the value proposition for Crunchyroll without seeing an accompanying price hike.”