Crunchyroll comes with a whole heap of advantages: high-resolution video, new releases every week, and even simulcast episodes. However, with a month’s subscription costing just £4.99 (or $6.95 in the US), exactly how much does it help the teams that make our favourite shows possible?

How Is Your Money Split?

In a 2013 interview with Crunchyroll’s CEO, Kun Gao, it was revealed that your money is split proportionately based on the shows you watch. For instance, if you only watch Steins;Gate, the studio behind it, White Fox, will get all your money. On the other hand, if you use Crunchyroll to check out ten shows every season, each studio only gets 49p or 69.5 cents. And that’s assuming 100% of your subscription money is redistributed – in reality, Crunchyroll almost certainly takes a cut too.

Okay, So How Much Do Shows Make?

k on money
K-On! – Kyoto Animation

We don’t know and Crunchyroll can’t tell us thanks to various non-disclosure agreements. However, we can make an educated guess. In February 2017, Crunchyroll posted a blog saying they’d just passed one million subscribers. However, they also mention that their app is installed on over a billion devices. This means that at best, 0.1% of all users subscribed at this point in time.

If we assume every single subscriber watched the same show exclusively, the studio would receive up to £4.99 million or $6.95 million. That’s pretty good! But the reality is that the actual revenue will be far lower, since some people watch many, many shows every season.

Is This Enough?

shirobako keyframes
Shirobako – P.A. Works

A 2011 study estimated that each episode of a 30-minute anime costs around $145,000 to make. This puts the total cost of a 13-episode show at almost two million, or a 26-episode one at nearly four million.

If we assume a new show is watched by 10K Crunchyroll subscribers, each of whom watches four shows a month, that puts the maximum amount earned at nearly $18000, or about 12% of an episode’s cost. The reality is that studios can likely recoup a decent percentage of their costs via Crunchyroll, but it’s far from a self-sustaining model.

So How Can I Help?

If you really want to support a studio, consider buying collector’s edition DVDs, BluRays, or merch. Be aware, though, that not all of the money will go where you want: the retailer you buy from takes a cut, as does the publisher, and various other companies involved with production. However, as these items are usually more expensive, you can likely contribute more with a single purchase than a month’s Crunchyroll subscription can.

Of course, there’s another way: by talking about your favourite shows and making more people aware of them, the likelihood of it being watched grows. Whether it’s watched on a streaming service or on old-school media, this leads to more money for the studio. Just avoid those unlicensed streaming sites: they’re low-quality and don’t help the anime creators at all.

Ian Garland

Just an ordinary guy who woke up one day in the magical world of anime reviews. Check them out... or don't, i-it's not like he likes you or anything...

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