THE ANIME NETWORK IN TROUBLE?I could have told you that I didn't think it would be smooth sailing for ADV, and I did last April.
Anyway, according to Anime News Network, Comcast is thinking of setting up their own competing Anime On Demand service, possibly in cooperation with Central Park Media (U.S. Manga Corps and Software Sculptors), and, somehow, ADV Films, the parent company of The Anime Network, thinks this means that Comcast's service will shut them out. They've issued a press release that is kind of a "call to arms" for anime fans to threaten to switch if Comcast doesn't pick up TAN.
Honestly, ADV is the master of the press release, as anyone following the, ahem, "progress" of the live-action Evangelion film, which is essentially just a bunch of production art and excited interviews and which still doesn't have a real studio behind it, can attest. They talk about how The Anime Network is "a breakout sensation" and an "overwhelming success", and I'm fully prepared to believe them, but first I need to see some sort of actual ratings data (not just penetration, how many eyeballs are you actually getting) and a TAN-specific profit statement. I'm still not sure how exactly they're even making a profit on TAN considering so many people still seem to be getting the service for "free". I'm not an insider nor can I watch TAN, so I could be wrong, but my suspicion is that, while ADV on the whole is quite profitable, they're still bleeding money out the wahoo on TAN, and just put a positive spin on it for the investors. I hope this isn't true, but, if I think in a little more Machiavellian way, this whole "contact Comcast" strategy may be a feint to blame the lack of actual profits on Comcast should TAN continue to bleed red, assuming it is bleeding red (and it may not be).
And I'm still very skeptical that there's even enough of a market for one anime channel to be profitable, since anime is still very much a niche market among non-children, and I still think anime programming blocks on existing cable channels are still the best way to attract a slightly wider audience to anime (with the advantage that the anime distributors wouldn't have to foot the overhead of running a cable channel), but, if I had to bet on which anime channel would be more likely to turn a profit, it would be one run by a major cable operator with much deeper pockets than ADV. And I think if there were two anime channels, they'd likely just eat each other alive, cannibalizing each other's audience. I'm of the opinion that ADV should probably go to Comcast and see if they could work something out and make a relatively more viable super anime channel rather than expecting Comcast to come knocking on their door when it's evident that Comcast has other plans.
By the way, anime fans, don't miss a couple of other things I wrote about anime recently: this article I wrote about a couple of small items involving anime and Christians (and this follow-up) and my thoughts on the upcoming Oh My Goddess! (ああっ女神さまっ) TV series. :)