Annual study shows sixth straight year of revenue growth and historical first in media format preference.

Anime has never been more popular than it is right now, and that goes for both inside Japan as well as abroad. With digital distribution making it easy to watch new content whenever you want and easily catch up on missed episodes, plus an unprecedented number of slickly organized fan appreciation events and theatrical screenings, the medium of Japanese animation is in the middle of its biggest, loudest boom ever, and the industry has the numbers to show it.

The Association of Japanese Animators conducts a yearly study of industry earnings, calculating data from roughly 150 significant anime-related companies. It’s just released its 2019 report, which found that for the sixth year in a row, the total size of the anime industry grew. This also marks the sixth year in a row the industry reached a new all-time high, with the most recent study reporting industry-wide earnings of 2.1814 trillion yen (US$10.939 billion).

Physical home video sales continued to decline, falling to 58.7 billion yen, roughly a 25-percent drop from the year before. On the other hand, video streaming revenue continued to rise, reaching 59.5 billion, as for the first time ever streaming is accounting for more anime revenue than physical video releases.

Another historic first: revenue from overseas totaled 1.0092 trillion yen, cracking the one-trillion yen mark for the first time, with overseas theatrical screening and anime-related video game sales mentioned as major contributors. That figure indicates that 46 percent of revenue came from outside Japan, making the overseas market nearly as important as the Japanese one for the anime industry.

However, while the anime industry may be bigger than ever, the reports figures don’t necessarily mean it’s healthier than ever. Sure, revenue being up is, judged by itself, is a good thing, but the more important, and unanswered, question is whether or not profits are up. More money coming in won’t keep the lights on if even more money is going out, something the industry got a harsh reminder of just this month as one Tokyo-based anime production company disappeared without paying dozens of contractors, only to suddenly resurface and declare bankruptcy due to crushing debt.

There’s also the question of whether or not anime industry sales growth is proportional to the increase in the number of anime production companies as the industry churns out more and more content, or the total revenue figure is being pumped up a large number of companies operating on razor-thin profit margins. Still, the Association of Japanese Animators’ study shows that there’s a growing demand for anime around the world, so hopefully companies can find a way to secure their financial security without working their employees to death.

Source: NHK News Web via Otakomu
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