Crunchyroll, an on-demand streaming service for Japanese anime and television shows broadcast across Asia, is rolling out a new e-commerce platform today that offers viewers merchandise while they’re watching their favorite shows.
As with Western comic books and sci-fi television shows, fans of popular anime such as Naruto Shippuden and Bleach often like to buy merchandise to show their support for the franchise. This can be additional DVDs or graphic novels, called manga in Japan, but also figurines, dress-up props and clothes.
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The market for these goods is incredibly lucrative – Crunchyroll estimates that over 70 percent of the anime ecosystem is monetized by merchandise related to the big anime brands – so it should come as no surprise that the streaming service wants a slice of the action.
Users that access the service from the browser will now be able to purchase merchandise as the video is playing. This is often from the right-hand side of the webpage, as a small pop-out box which shows the name of the product, price, a thumbnail image and ’Shop Now’ button.
Crunchyroll also serves up a series of video advertisements for users who are watching an episode for free, so there’s a chance that the company might utilize this space down the line.
“We are innovating around content streaming and delivering e-commerce capabilities to immediately connect viewers with merchandise relevant to the video content that they are viewing, and we’re only at the beginning stage of where we want to go with the combined experience,” said Brady McCollum, COO of Crunchyroll.
It’s important to note that the merchandise will always be relevant to the show that the user is watching. Although adverts are rarely welcomed by Internet users, the fact that they’re specialized and targeted based on a users’ tastes should mean that they’re a little less irritating.
Crunchyroll already has a dedicated store accessible from the menu bar, but will be expanding its relationships with partners throughout Asia in order to sell exclusive merchandise previously not available outside of these markets.
Crunchyroll is unique because it’s one of the few dedicated services offering a legal means of streaming anime in a timely manner. DVD sales, which often require large amounts of translation work and voice acting for “dubbed” audio tracks, have slowed in recent times because of the delay in release dates.
Fans want to watch anime as soon as it is broadcast in Japan, which has triggered a ground swell of online piracy and subtitles contributed by fans and amateur translation teams.
Crunchyroll offers users a free, legal way of accessing a whole host of popular shows including Total Eclipse, Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos. Some of these shows are uploaded with a small delay, up to a week in some cases, which users can choose to bypass by paying €4.99 per month for a premium subscription.
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