Although my fellow friend on Melative/IRC, kimaguresan is planning to write a article on this, I decided that I should share my own thoughts on why Crunchyroll is not only killing fansubs, but killing licensed DVDs and disadvantages.
Everyone can say that Crunchyroll is the best thing ever since you have to pay 6.99 a month to watch the latest episodes. I feel that Crunchyroll is a worse version of Hulu, which they are deciding on a paid model for some of it’s shows and older episodes. With Crunchyroll, you are stuck with low resolution video that you have to watch commercials and you can’t see the new stuff for a whole week… bummer right? How about people who are locked out of Crunchyroll and fansubs groups not subbing the show because it’s on CR? What is their only option? Crunchyroll rips?
I despise Crunchyroll not only because of their disservice to the anime community, but it’s killing licensed DVD releases. Between their poor quality translations and video quality (unless you subscribe), Crunchyroll is the worst choice compared to Licensed DVDs or even fansubs.
Let’s put aside that issue for now because their are other problems CR is doing… Once a anime gets onto CR, I feel that there will be no incentive for licensing companies to even license the series and put it on DVD or how about metered internet? Why the hell you want to stream if the ISP is going to give a 5 GB cap and charging $5 per 1 GB for overages? What if your area have no fast broadband internet and you are stuck with slow satellite or dialup internet? No one will be able to watch it since you can ‘t even get it on DVD since Licensing companies have no incentive of releasing it. This will be later discussed in the editorial, but let’s focus on how CR will make Licensors to not even bother licensing the series. This is evident because I haven’t seen any CR show get licensed and released on DVD “yet.”
Is Crunchyroll killing Licensed DVDs?
So far, yes because Anime usually have low replay value, unless the show is really good. Crunchyroll translate the anime and adds the subs within 24 hours and viewers watch it. Viewers will most likely watch it once and not watch the episode again, but why I am saying that Crunchyroll is killing DVDs? Since the viewers are going to watch it on CR anyways, why the hell licensors like Bandai Entertainment, Funimation, Section 23 (former ADV) and others would want to release the show onto DVD when they know that the viewers aren’t going to buy it? This means that noone will be able to own these titles that are on Crunchyroll ever…
Some people may ask, why you need physical media when you have streaming and videos you can get at the iTunes store? The answer is this, you don’t actually own anything and they are most likely infested with DRM, Digital Rights Management. This means you can’t put the anime on any device such as portable media players, Playstation 3, Zune HD, Smartphones like the iPhone, etc. With streaming, you don’t actually own the file at all and that uses bandwidth. Streaming video compared to audio is bandwidth intensive and with some ISPs like Time Warner Cable and AT&T trying to push for metered internet, why do you even want to stream from Crunchyroll anymore?
Another case against Crunchyroll, Metered or Capped Internet and Broadband Availability
Last year, some users have noticed that Time Warner wants to test metered internet in some markets, which caused so much outrage that someone wanted to pass a Anti-Metered Internet Bill. AT&T doing the same and Verizon pushing for metered internet. Metered Internet may be a stupid idea, but if it’s actually implemented, sites like Crunchyroll will get hurt the most. Then, most viewers are left without options since CR streaming takes too much bandwidth compared to just downloading the episode to a single file or buying a DVD. What if you want to show it again to someone else or you want to re-watch it? You have to use double the amount of bandwidth and it will eat up your cap even more. Video streaming is bandwidth intensive and can easily eat up your cap and cause expensive overages. Also, college dorms usually limits their internet with small caps, so it’s pointless to stream there either since you will lose internet access for a whole week.
This is the reason why streaming video is stupid. You can’t store the file for later viewing and you need a internet connection just to watch it. What if you on a airplane and want to watch some anime… well you can’t since there is no internet connection nor CR provides a file where you can play it locally. While you at it, streaming CR using a mobile broadband connection like AT&T’s Data Connect will probably rack up those overages rather quickly.
Another thing is broadband penetration. Not all areas have broadband, especially most places in the south and rural areas. DSL is not even suitable for any video streaming of any kind, unless you want to wait alot. These people who live in areas with lack of broadband options are often stuck with dialup, cellular or satellite internet, which is unsuitable for streaming. Like mentioned earlier, licensors are reluctant to license and release something on CR, so the users who lack fast broadband is left in the dark, unable to watch the series they want to watch. I think this is unfair because there is no other viable options for people to watch their anime with any method and CR is pretty much your only choice.
Not to mention, the average US Broadband Speed is 3.9 Mbps, which is not as fast compared to other countries…
So what should CR do to solve this?
Well, providing downloadable, non-DRM video files for subscribers of the episodes can be a start and also giving an incentive for licensors to license the anime and release onto DVD. This way, it allows more options and users don’t have to use their bandwidth just to play the episode over again and have something to own. In addition, they should try to negotiate so they can provide the service to everyone. Until they open up and stop making the same mistakes, I will be against Crunchyroll forever… (and I highly doubt any of this will happen.)
And if capped/metered internet becomes a reality… Crunchyroll is pretty much screwed.
Edit: Maybe I am a bit wrong… since Section23 announced a license for Gintama, which is on CR… So I know one thing, CR doesn’t kill licensed DVD releases, or perhaps just makes them less attractive for a DVD release, with some possible evidence from this video from Funnimation. However, there is still a lot I hate about Crunchyroll.