Earlier yesterday, ANN reported that Crunchyroll—the formerly illicit streaming anime site that went legit in January of 2009—broke even in May. This is huge news for advocates of on-demand and simulcasted anime like myself. It proves that Crunchyroll’s strategy can work, which hopefully means Japanese companies will be less hesitant to put their stuff online.
To put this in perspective, the enormously popular YouTube has yet to turn a profit, though this is likely because the service was largely ad-free for quite a while. Crunchyroll, on the other hand, supports itself by charging subscription fees for instant access to their newest shows and—for non-subscribers—including commercial breaks in their videos. It would be interesting to see what percentage of their revenue comes from each source, though it’s highly unlikely Crunchyroll will ever release that kind of information.
Whatever the monetary breakdown, Funimation and the Anime Network are probably feeling much better about the chances of their own streaming services. And if they succeed, us fans may finally get decent, legal alternatives to DVDs.