Major anime and manga publisher Kadokawa claims revenues of 10 million yen monthly from YouTube advertising revenue sharing on its YouTube-based Kadokawa Anime Channel, both from episode and MAD viewing, and reports 50 million views from September to November of 2008; they now promise to recognise fan-made videos they like, and naturally to receive their due.
This is, they would have us believe, proof that a new business model based on online distribution and liberal usage rights is commercially viable.
Much of this success is said to be due to the effect of Haruhi, Lucky Star, and Strike Witches.
All this stems from the October introduction of “InVideo Ads”, allowing Kadokawa some revenue sharing opportunity. Videos directly or indirectly derived from their properties are apparently all included in this arrangement, resulting in the 10 million yen figure.
Putting this in perspective, although 10 million is a start, this is more akin to what a single station would pay for limited broadcast rights, and Kadokawa is currently projected to lose over 2 billion yen in the 2008 fiscal year…
Clearly, there is a long way to go before this becomes a significant revenue source.
There are however some very much open questions about all this.
Though it may say “YouTube is Comiket”, it looks as if Kadokawa has a far less liberal attitude towards MADs than the typical attitude towards doujinshi; their CEO had this to say last year: “We’re going ahead and recognising derivative works which are respectful towards the original, excluding those MADs which the author doesn’t like. The keyword is “love” – if the work has respect towards the original, we’ll recognise it”.
This of course leaves open some very wide scope for something akin to censorship – especially on the likes of YouTube, where anything vaguely controversial, risqué or merely widely disliked tends to find itself rapidly deleted. To say nothing of the fact that the vibrant doujinshi culture arisen around so many properties owes much to the inability of creators to object to what in many cases must be disquieting usage of their works.
The other issue we hear nothing about is the interaction between the various video sharing services. There are a variety of complex issues here; for example, the vast majority of MADs on YouTube actually originate on NicoNico Douga and are freely imported to YouTube – in fact there are now a great many cases where MADs originating on Nico are vigororously deleted at the request of the rights holder, only to be allowed on YouTube – it’s not clear just which companies have deals here, but it looks as if many do not, or at least are quiet about them if they do.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of also-ran video sharing sites which completely ignore/are ignored by the rights holders, many happily allowing full episodes and similar. How they will fit in, given their major advantage tends to be this copyright radar evasion, is not clear.
Such doubts aside, it looks as if Kadokawa is attempting, rather belatedly it has to be said, to adapt to the new video oriented culture arising on such sites, and perhaps more significantly is opening up an alternative distribution channel to traditional TV stations…
With both MADs being embraced, and a new “broadcast” medium opening, could we be witnessing the birth of a new anime market, predicated on online distribution and DVD sales?