Exclusive: US OTT player Crunchyroll eyes India with ambitious plans, bets big on localised anime
Crunchyroll, the American SVOD streaming service involved in the distribution, production and licensing of Japanese anime and dorama, is ambitious about the Indian market with its localised and dubbed-in-Hindi anime offerings. Recently, the San Francisco-headquartered streaming platform introduced its premium version, which provides an ad-free viewing experience.
Since Crunchyroll announced the price cut in nearly 100 territories worldwide, including India, earlier this summer, the response has been phenomenal, says Brady McCollum, Chief Operating Officer, Crunchyroll, in an interaction with Adgully.
McCollum informed that the streamer has seen increased engagement and strong and steady growth in subscribers and viewership from anime fans in India who are hungry for localised anime, “particularly as a result of a first wave of series we have made available in our platform fully dubbed and subbed in Hindi”.
“To best meet Indian fans exactly where they are, Crunchyroll employs multiple strategies to attract and engage anime fans using digital, print, and physical mediums. We are very excited about the opportunity to further grow Crunchyroll’s awareness within the Indian anime fandom and are particularly excited for future physical events and theatrical showings,” says McCollum.
Crunchyroll is betting big on the Indian market with its unique products. “The response from the Indian audience, especially for the locally relevant and Hindi dubbed content, has been great,” he adds.
“Before rolling out our price cut to fans in India, our team did very thorough research and analysis to help gain a better understanding of the landscape. We also listen to our fans, and Indian anime fans are some of the most vocal! We have heard their calls to create a more accessible way to enjoy all their anime in one place and thus, we were excited to offer Crunchyroll memberships in rupees at a lower cost and more locally relevant. The response so far has been very encouraging, and we’re seeing increased engagement and subscriptions across the board. Next, we’re assessing growth opportunities across the Crunchyroll flywheel, first with content. Our team has already rolled out Hindi dubs for two of our most popular series, ‘My Dress Up Darling’ and ‘Ranking of Kings’, with more to come,” says McCollum.
He further reveals that Crunchyroll is working in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment India to bring fans ‘Dragon Ball Super: SUPER HERO’ in Hindi across Indian theatres.
McCollum asserts that it is important for Crunchyroll to deliver a compelling streaming experience with relevant content. Crunchyroll, he adds, is the world’s best home for anime.
“While all the major streamers have anime on their platforms, no one curates a community experience quite like we do, which includes both breadth of genres and depth of catalogue. Fans know they can come to us for the latest subtitled and dubbed anime, along with theatrical experiences (like the recently-opened ‘Dragon Ball Super: SUPER HERO’), and we’re also looking at ways to expand our offering in India to include our full slate of Crunchyroll Games, licensed consumer products, and more,” he says.
Mobile-games and theatre
McCollum says that the idea is to ensure that Crunchyroll is the best home for anime fans in India. “So, we’ll continue working closely with our content partners in Japan to add more series for fans to enjoy, as well as expanding the languages of the catalogue we’ve already made available. We’ll also continue to explore ways to bring fans more of our flywheel, across theatrical, gaming, licensed consumer products and more,” he adds.
Crunchyroll’s mobile games and theatrical division continue to be strong areas of growth for its business, says McCollum. For fans in India, it has two mobile games titles from Crunchyroll Games available: Princess Connect! Re: Dive and Mitrasphere.
“Regarding our theatrical business, we recently announced the premiere of ‘Dragon Ball Super: SUPER HERO’ in Hindi across Indian theatres, which we are releasing in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment India,” he said.
According to McCollum, the global love of anime has grown steadily year over year, and Crunchyroll has grown alongside the love for the medium. “We operate in more than 200 countries and territories, serving millions of fans worldwide. We also have more than 120 million followers across our social media channels. We're excited to continue growing and nurturing the anime community worldwide.”
Trends and AVOD
About the trends in the anime segment, he says, “Anime fans love to be in community with each other. Now that the world is opening back up, and we’re returning to live events, we’re seeing an incredible demand for in-person experiences. We saw this in our recent Crunchyroll Expo in the United States. Crunchyroll Expo is our yearly flagship event and this year’s experience was sold out, with fans from all across our state and our country coming together to celebrate their favorites. We see this trend continuing, especially with the premiere of ‘Dragon Ball Super: SUPER HERO’. You can’t replicate the experience of being in a theatre, enjoying alongside other fans! We also see the continued diversification of the anime community. With anime becoming more a part of mainstream pop culture, we’re seeing a variety of demographics joining in to the anime fun.”
According to McCollum, ad-supported viewing is a great way to introduce fans to the world of anime, and it’s been part of Crunchyroll’s value proposition since the first subscriber. He feels that it’s the perfect gateway to allow viewers to sample content and explore various genres.
“However, if fans want to go deeper into our library or if they want to enjoy simulcast series (streamed day and date with premiere in Japan), then a Crunchyroll membership will be the best option! This is true for the wider industry - curious fans will benefit from AVOD streaming, while SVOD consumption will be there for those who want to dive deeper,” he adds.