Did Anime Producers Go From Embracing Fansubbers To Blaming Them?
from the not-so-good dept
"Anime that has been fansubbed is effectively worthless. It's being given away for free. In terms of supply and demand, there is an infinite supply, and therefore the product is worthless regardless of how many people want it -- it's like trying to sell buckets of sea water to people on a beach. The only people who would pay for it are either older fans who are attached to the old ways of consuming media, or worse, are doing so out of charity. That is the state of this industry. And the companies who depend on anime for their livelihood let this happen."The editorial goes on to note that the industry has simply sat back and watched this happen for over a decade. Rather than recognizing that the reason fansubbers did what they want was because they felt they weren't being served by the industry, they just let it happen or complained about it. What's most interesting here, however, is that just three years ago, we had a story about fansubbers where the key to the story was the exact opposite: claiming that fansubbers had made anime a viable business proposition in the US, whereas before it had been almost entirely non-existent. On top of that, almost exactly two years ago, we had a post talking about how the industry had embraced fansubbers and learned to use them to the industry's advantage.
So what happened? Has the industry shifted so much in just two years? It would be great if those who followed the industry more closely could chime in, because it's odd to see such a divergent set of stories. However, from the various articles, it looks like fansubbers helped create a market in the US... but the industry misunderstood what that market represented, and by missing the actual market has now turned around and blamed fansubbers. That is, the growth of fansubbing created demand for anime in the US, but it wasn't demand for buying expensive DVDs for collecting well after the content had been released. It was demand for more content and other, ancillary products. Unfortunately, the anime industry assumed that the US market would simply mimic the Japanese market -- and even that it could hold off selling DVDs into that market until well after they were released in the US. This was a huge strategic error. It was holding back the one product that the market could get by itself, rather than focusing on providing new and different things that the market couldn't get and that the market actually wanted. However, without those fansubbers, much of the demand wouldn't even exist at all -- and to now blame them for not buying the late-to-market, seriously overpriced DVDs misses the point by a wide margin.