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Why You May Not Know Your Anime Fans as Well as You Think

At Interpret we interview over 9,000 Americans each and every quarter as part of our New Media Measure syndicated tracking study.  One of the questions we ask each quarter is, from a list of about 20, which TV genres (among traditional TV viewers and Streaming viewers) have you watched in the past week?

The vast majority of genres are mostly stable.  For example, Comedy is a genre as old as time – and a genre that does not typically see a lot of growth or contraction among the many folks tuning in for a laugh each week.  Even with COVID, we seem to maintain our sense of humor.  So, a big, dominant genre like Comedy sees little movement.

A more niche genre, like Talk Shows might exhibit more volatility.  For whatever reason, Talk Shows are down in 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019.

But of all the genres we ask about, with most showing little change Year-Over-Year and a couple struggling, only one shows substantial and significant YOY growth: anime.  There are two main takeaways from this.

First of all, Anime is doing well here in the United States!  Sure, it’s still niche.  The greater than 30% growth Interpret sees does represent something like a change from 12% to 16% of US TV/streaming viewers aged 13-44 who watch it weekly.  Netflix reports a 50% increase in households watching at least one anime title in 2020.  Crunchyroll has added an additional 1 million paid subscribers in about 6 months.  Anime is a rising star in the world of niche entertainment.

The second, and more striking, take-away is that fully one-quarter of people watching Anime today were not watching it a year ago.  Put another way, if your understanding of the anime fandom is based on research or interactions from 5 years or 3 years or even a year ago, 25% of the Anime Fan population today is made up of people you may not yet know.

2020 has been a challenging year and 2021 has not taken its foot off the pedal yet, but much as the industry must change and grow, newcomers to this space are developing their preferences, viewing habits, and demand for programming in real time, and we should watch closely to see what kind of fan emerges from this rapid period of growth and innovation in fan lifestyles.

The anime fandom is not only rapidly growing, but globalizing.  Next month, Interpret will draw on further insights from our 2020 global anime research to offer context for forming a global anime strategy and understanding how global trends impact each and every domestic market. 

John McCallum is a Senior Research Manager at Interpret, a global insights firm laser-focused on helping media, entertainment and technology clients make informed decisions through bespoke and syndicated research. John’s work and passion is centered around Japanese video games, anime, and entertainment. He leads Interpret’s Animeasure products (a global tracker and segmentation) and guides clients in bringing their stories and products to life in Japan, making him well-versed in working with stakeholders from both sides of the Pacific. Since joining the Interpret team, John has been key in helping to expand the company’s work in Japan, market segmentation, and brand tracking. John holds a BA in Social Studies from Harvard University.

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