Netflix Boosting Anime Content Library Amid Rising Viewership

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Netflix Boosting Anime Content Library Amid Rising Viewership
Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

As the streaming wars rage on, Netflix is adding more anime to its content arsenal.

The streaming giant plans to release roughly 40 anime titles this year across a growing range of genres, from sci-fi to romantic dramas, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The investment in Japanese animation is for good reason: Netflix said roughly half of its 222 million global subscribers watched some anime programming on its platform in 2021.

Netflix revealed its anime plans last week during the AnimeJapan convention in Tokyo. In addition to dozens of new titles, Netflix is returning popular series such as “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stone Ocean” and “Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045.”

Whereas Netflix has previously leaned on action-packed anime titles in the sci-fi, fantasy and adventure genres, the streamer plans to diversify its anime programming to include more “lean-back content” such as romantic dramas, the company’s creative director for anime, Kohei Obara, told THR.

While Netflix’s biggest anime hits so far have been “edgy” R-rated titles like “Devilman Crybaby,” the company has seen comedies resonate as well, Obara said. “That’s sort of how we feel about anime’s capacity and potential on the service right now—that any show could actually become a global hit,” he said.

The streaming market leader is facing growing competition and slowing subscriber growth, and may be entering a new phase where it must focus on retaining customers who are more willing to cancel subscriptions. Netflix has added video games, interactive shows and podcasts to its content library as it expands beyond traditional TV and movies.

But Netflix appears to have found a content goldmine in Japanese animation. At least 90% of its users in Japan have watched anime, according to Obara, and the animation style is growing in popularity globally as well: Netflix saw a 20% increase in the total hours that subscribers spent watching anime last year.

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