Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Some musings on the UK anime market

Some Q&A.
Tl;dr version:
Your product sucks compared to the US and or Fansubs
If it didn't suck it's OOP.

1.Why do people watch fansubs?
 1a) "Real" fansubs

     1a)i.What is a fansub?
Fansub here refers to what fansub groups actually create.
Currently that's a  .mkv file that contains an  h.264 video, .ass subtitles and AAC audio.
i.e fansubs offer better video and subtitle quality than DVD video is capable of, with equal audio

They are distributed through IRC, Torrents and "cyber lockers". Streaming has been tested but is unused due to high costs.
  •  Series has not been released subtitled in English
  • It was HD broadcast and has only been released on DVD.
  • The "simul-"cast is later than Japanese initial broadcast by several days, it's faster.
  • The "simul-"cast is incredibly bad video quality when compared to Japanese broadcast.
  • Official "translation" was bad, inc. dubtitles
  • Speed, do not want it spoiled for me so watch before anyone can.  
  • The  English disk release is OOP and is prohibitively expensive to buy or simply not buyable.

1b) stream rips
  • Geo restriction, the big reason, this video is not available in your country.
  • Connection issues: streams require a stable fairly fast connection, often not usable at any quality during peak  times, which is when most people can access their computer.
  • Bandwidth, every time you watch a stream you download it, pirating the stream means saving on download bandwidth, which some ISPs limit.
  • The stream has been taken down.

1c)English (normally US) DVD/BD rips

  • The disk is OOP and is prohibitively expensive to buy or simply not buyable
  • DVD/BD is prohibitively expensive anyway even if in print (esp. subbed Japanese releases)
  • Hardcore will not pay for anything pirate
  • Sampling, may buy if the BD/DVD if high enough quality (esp. checking BDs for being better than the DVD releases)

2Why do many of us import from the US?
  • The anime in question is not out here.
  • The anime in question has not been announced to be released here. 
  • US release is better advertised here.
  • Anime is not out on BD here, it is there.
  • Release is cheaper.
  • UK release is OOP
  • The UK may* not get a limited Edition.
  • It's UK release is flawed e.g:
  • dubtitles
  • BBFC cuts
  • NTSC-> PAL conversion
  • wrong source video (VHS masters, cropped masters)
  • DNR or excessive filters on BD releases
  • excessive UPO
  • missing extras
  • Fear of any of the above (e.g US has no risk of NTSC->PAL conversion problems)

*collector mentality, if the US LE will sell out before I can buy the UK one I'll buy the US.

3Why do people still buy bootleg DVDs?
  • DVD is not available in English
  • Lawful release is long OOP and in high demand
  • Lawful DVDs are not distributed in that country

Did I miss any?
That's a what to fix to not lose customers to the alternatives.

Gaining them, requires advertising or putting out good product. Word of mouth does not work if your product isn't good in the first place, it can also take ages.
Every single show I've ever searched for to buy (not a preorder or impulse purchase) has been OOP, not released here, or more often both (i.e did make the US but not here). Note being OOP is one every single list for a reason.

I consider MVM the best distributor here if only for actually keeping titles in print and they've only netted me one mildly glitched disk.

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