When anime companies finally started embracing streaming their shows on-line there is a definite transition period as they tried to figure out what worked. They knew they had to move toward digital distribution but how they would do that was anyone’s guess. Would people pay per episode? Would they buy season passes? Would people watch commercials? How much would they pay for digital downloads? Which titles were worth streaming? What titles would still sell on physical media after being streamed? While most streaming sites focused on licensing the latest and greatest shows a few companies like Toei tried putting out older shows like Captain Harlock and Fist of the North Star on various streaming sites. While these titles hardly set the world on fire in term of streaming they were all picked up by Discotek proving there is an audience for older titles. You just have to handle your classic titles correctly. And you must have realistic expectations.
And now it seems that Viki.com has caught on to that principle as well. There is a market for streaming older titles. You just have to be clever with how you put them out and know your limits. If you expect them to get the number of hits that a Naruto or even a Kuroko’s Basketball will pull you are sadly mistaken. But if you keep your overhead low and your licenses smart there is potential for a business model.
The Viki model is two-fold. The first part is to mostly get older shows with some prestige titles like some of more under the radar Tezuka anime and a few other rather obscure titles that you are certainly not going to get into a bidding war over. The second part is have all the subtitling done by crowdsourcing. That means that all the subs you see are done by fans. For better or for worse.
It is certainly an interesting model. There are some distinct problems that can crop up with such as system as well as some unique opportunities that a conventional system like Crunchyroll would not be able to take advantage of. The question is how does this system turn out in the end. How much does Viki capitalize on its strengths and how much does it show its weaknesses?
Viki is a site that popped up on my radar unexpectedly but I haven’t heard a lot of talk about it since then. Their model is different than other streaming sites as it looks to the fans to contribute their time and knowledge to getting a translation available for all to enjoy. But Viki goes through the process of licensing the title from Japan for streaming legally.
The site boasts a collection of mostly older, older anime titles which as far as I’m concerned is its claim to fame. These are the titles I want to see streaming because it is doubtful an actual release would work for it and that’s okay. We get so little anime from eras past that any way seems better than none at all. And Viki’s site, while not perfect, is far from the worst way to see these shows.