Anime Hits Bollywood: OTT Platforms Bet Big Bucks on Rising Popularity
Anime Hits Bollywood: OTT Platforms Bet Big Bucks on Rising Popularity
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Anime is reigning supreme with Gen Z, and OTT platforms are elevating the experience. With a staggering 180 million-strong anime fanbase in India, OTT platforms are ramping up their investments in anime content. A recent report estimates the global anime market to be of an impressive $31.2 billion in 2023, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent from 2024 to 2030.

The recent spotlight, however, fell on Bollywood icon Salman Khan, who donned anime-inspired pants featuring characters from Dragon Ball Z and Demon Slayer at the Heeramandi red carpet event in Mumbai. This unconventional fashion statement by wearing The Goku from Dragon Ball Z and Nezuko Kamado from Demon Slayer delighted fans, signaling the mainstream embrace of anime culture in India.

An expert from the Licensing and Merchandising industry said, “This is just the beginning, when mainstream actors start embracing anime in their appearances. It surely enhances the demand for anime led merchandise in the market. The boom of such anime led IPs depends on the quality and popularity of the content in the Indian market.”

According to US-based Grand View Research, the anime market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13% from 2024 to 2030. This growth is fueled by factors such as Japanese pop culture, increased global media exposure, and demand from millennials and Gen Z.

JioCinema Enters the Anime Market

Targeting audiences aged 12-24, several OTT platforms in India are now investing in anime content. India's OTT market, valued at $2.5 billion which includes YouTube, experienced a major shake-up in 2023 when JioCinema entered the fray.

Initially offering free IPL content, JioCinema has now launched a dedicated Anime Hub as part of its premium offering priced at Rs 29 per month. The platform provides real-time global releases and boasts a library of hundreds of hours of top anime titles.

A spokesperson from JioCinema stated, “JioCinema Premium’s consumer-first approach has brought high-quality and diverse content to audiences across India. Our latest offering, Anime Hub, provides a world of entertainment for anime fans. From simulcast real-time global releases to a vast library of top anime titles, we are confident that JioCinema’s Anime Hub will become a preferred destination for anime enthusiasts in India.”

Launchpad for Anime Content

Amazon's Prime Video has announced the launch of its exclusive anime channel, Anime Times, in India. This follows the addition of the Animax anime channel to Prime Video alongside Gem in May 2023. This addition came in to the existing anime content already available in Prime Video's library.

Anime Times has been available in Japan on Prime Video since August 19, 2021. The channel is operated by The Anime Times Company, a collaborative effort involving 14 Japanese publishers, such as Avex Pictures, Kodansha, Shueisha, and Shogakukan.

Vivek Srivastava, Head of Prime Video Channels, Prime Video India, stated, “At Prime Video, we are committed to offering diverse, engaging, and distinctive content across languages, genres, and formats, catering to our customers' varied interests.” Srivastava further added, “Over recent years, anime content has gained significant popularity in India. With the launch of Anime Times on Prime Video Channels, we are expanding our anime programming with hundreds of hours of engaging movies and TV shows for Prime Members.”

Hideo Katsumata, CEO of Anime Times Company, expressed, “Anime Times and Prime Video have had a successful collaboration in Japan, and we are excited to introduce Anime Times for the first time to audiences in India. Japanese anime culture has become a significant global phenomenon, sparking increased interest in Japanese entertainment. With Anime Times, fans across India will have access to a vast array of anime shows and movies, both recent and classic, via Prime Video Channels.”

Crunchyroll Aims for Anime Dominance

Sony Group Corporation-owned Crunchyroll, dedicated solely to anime content, invested an initial $10 million in India. The platform now offers over 800 anime titles in India, totaling 8,000 hours of content, with over 70 shows dubbed in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Globally, Crunchyroll boasts 13 million paid subscribers.

Recently, at Mumbai Comic Con India, anime fans had the chance to meet team members from the popular anime show Demon Slayer. Natsuki Hanae, the voice of Tanjiro, and Yuma Takahashi, the producer of Demon Slayer from Aniplex, met eager fans in India for the first time. Additionally, there was a surprise video appearance from Takahiro Sakurai, who voices Giyu Tomioka, adding to the excitement among fans.

While Netflix and Disney+Hotstar also offer a variety of anime content on their platforms, experts believe that every OTT platform will capitalize on the popularity of anime in India, leading to the growth of anime-related merchandise. It remains to be seen how quickly licensors of anime IPs will establish themselves in India to drive merchandise-led growth.

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