Japan's Anime Industry Worth Record $19B, Driven by Streaming and Exports

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Aniplex of America

Sales to Netflix, Amazon and Chinese streamers have helped triple overseas sales in the last four years as the domestic market continues to shrink.

Revenues for the Japanese anime industry reached a record $19.1 billion (?2.15 trillion) last year, according to the annual report released this week by The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA).

The domestic market, which was boosted by the smash-hit Your Name the previous year, continued falling from its 2014 peak. Fortunately for the industry, that year marked the beginning of strong growth in overseas sales, particularly to streaming giants Netflix, Amazon and Chinese platforms.

Overseas sales, which also includes box office, television rights, remake rights, home entertainment sales and merchandising, grew to a record $8.81 billion (?995 billion), up around 30 percent from $6.79 billion the previous year, according to the AJA. Since 2014, exports have more than tripled.

Strong exports, along with solid revenue from licenses to video games and pachinko (a Japanese gambling game played on vertical pinball machines), have helped sustain eight years of consecutive growth for the industry. 2017 was also the fifth consecutive year of record revenues. Live anime-related events, which are often streamed, are another growth area for the industry.

Japan's demographics, with a shortage of young people and a slowly shrinking population, mean the prognosis for the future of the domestic market is less than healthy, but overseas sales look set to grow further as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu buy and order more content, and China's theatrical market opens up more to Japanese content.