Anime Alchemy: Crunchyroll’s Epic Saga in India
Anime Alchemy: Crunchyroll’s Epic Saga in India

Launched in 2020, Crunchyroll has seen tremendous growth in India. With a base of 180 million Indian anime fans, the Over The Top (OTT) anime streaming platform has experienced a 2X growth in minutes per viewer and a 3.5X increase in total watch time over the past six months. Crunchyroll is now exploring more licensing opportunities specific to India, Southeast Asia, and worldwide to enhance fan experiences.

Owned by Sony Group Corporation, Crunchyroll is dedicated solely to anime content.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.

In recent seasons, Indian anime fans have enjoyed popular shows on Crunchyroll such as "Demon Slayer - Kimetsu no Yaiba," "JUJUTSU KAISEN," "Kaiju No.8," "MASHLE: MAGIC AND MUSCLES," "One Piece," "Solo Leveling," "The Daily Life of the Immortal King," and "Wind Breaker."

Remarkable Growth

In an interview with IndianRetailer.com, Akshat Sahu, Director of Marketing, APAC, Crunchyroll, spoke in-depth about the growth of the anime fanbase in India and the platform’s strategy to enhance the fan experience in India and the SEA region.

Elaborating on the growth journey, Sahu said, “Crunchyroll has experienced remarkable growth in India, particularly over the past six months. We are proud to offer over 800 anime titles, totaling more than 8,000 hours of content, catering to the diverse tastes of Indian anime enthusiasts.”

He further noted, “In this timeframe, our platform has witnessed a doubling in minutes per viewer, with total watch time increasing by 3.5 times. These metrics not only signify our expanding user base but also reflect the growing popularity of anime content in India's vibrant streaming landscape. We also know that anime fans love to experience anime together, so when we host screenings of Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) or theatrical content or attend Mumbai Comic Con, anime fans come out in full force and cherish the experience with unbridled energy.”

Growth Strategy

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.

Comparing the Indian and SEA regions in terms of the anime streaming and merchandising market, Sahu said, “In both India and the SEA region, the anime streaming market is experiencing significant growth. However, there are some differences between the two regions. In India, anime fans are currently underserved, presenting substantial potential for growth and market expansion.”

He continued, “Conversely, the SEA region exhibits a higher level of familiarity with anime compared to India. Despite this, there remains ample opportunity to further engage and satisfy fans in both markets, particularly in enhancing the overall viewing and engagement experience with anime as a medium. By recognizing and addressing these distinctions, we aim to provide tailored, localized offerings that resonate deeply with anime enthusiasts across India and the SEA region.”

Elaborating on the strategy to cater to Indian audiences with anime content, Sahu said, “At Crunchyroll, we want to grow the love of anime worldwide by spotlighting that anime is a dynamic storytelling medium from Japan that includes many different genres and offers something for every kind of fan, from slice of life to sports, from dark fantasy to romantic comedy.”

Anime in Regional Languages

According to the FICCI-PwC report of 2021, the share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50% of total time spent by 2025, surpassing Hindi at 45%. Media Partners Asia reports that Direct to Consumer SVOD subscribers are expected to grow to 193 million by 2026, and Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) revenues will reach over $1.8 billion by 2026, up from $800 million in 2021.

Elaborating on regional anime consumption, Sahu said, “Dubbed anime content contributes to over 65% of the total viewership in India for Crunchyroll. We have rapidly started dubbing anime content in Indian languages to make it accessible to fans. Currently, Crunchyroll is offering more than 75 shows dubbed in Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil, and many more are expected.”

He added, “To make anime accessible to all Indian audiences, we've embarked on an ambitious localization effort, including dubbing content into Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, along with exploring additional languages in the future. Since the introduction of dubbed content last year, we have observed a significant uptick in engagement, signaling a promising trajectory for growth.”

Licensing and Merchandising

Recently, Crunchyroll launched its first ad campaign in India, “Wish Your World Was Anime,” featuring anime superfans Rashmika Mandanna and Tiger Shroff. This campaign aims to bring anime characters to life and make it more mainstream.

Talking about innovative collaboration and licensing initiatives, Sahu said, “Our commitment extends beyond anime content, with initiatives such as social media engagement, events, gaming, and theatrical screenings fostering a deeper connection with the medium among Indian fans. Most recently, we have produced advertising campaigns with Indian anime superfans Rashmika Mandanna and Tiger Shroff.”

He continued, “We know anime fans love to wear their fandom on their sleeve—literally—and are exploring variety of merchandises in India. Our merchandising and licensing partner helps us explore opportunities to bring officially licensed merchandise to fans across categories. We are continuing to explore more such opportunities specific to India, Southeast Asia, and worldwide.”

Recently, Crunchyroll expanded its operations in India by opening a second office in Hyderabad to focus on backend operations like localisation, enterprise technology, and data analytics. It will be interesting to watch Crunchyroll expand its anime horizon on Indian television with an exclusive anime content channel Crunchyroll TV. They debuted as a free, 24-hour anime channel in the U.S. in October 2023, featuring a lineup of classic anime dubbed in English.

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