Anime distributors face a major challenge today, trying to deliver content in a profitable manner. Avoiding piracy is another part of the conversation, of course - - as are questions about the right distribution model. How do you make it so easy for your audience that they won’t even think twice about choosing you?
To answer that call, VIZ Media is launching Neon Alley. This online network offers anime; not just from VIZ, but from a variety of partners, as well. We had the opportunity to catch up with Brian Ige, the Vice President of Animation for VIZ Media, about all that Neon Alley's raven mascot has to offer...
ANIME VICE: Why start an online network for anime as opposed to cable or on-demand?
BRIAN IGE: When we started planning for Neon Alley, we wanted to identify gaps in the anime category. There's so much high-quality anime coming over from Japan, but unfortunately there aren't a lot of opportunities to highlight new anime series on traditional TV or even cable networks.
We already have great partners for on-demand, and it’s is a wonderful platform if you know exactly what you want to watch, but it’s not as easy to browse for & discover new shows. Neon Alley combines the best of online viewing with broadcast-style curated live programming.
AV: We know you've been asked this in some form before, but still - - why game consoles?
BI: We created Neon Alley specifically for gaming consoles, since the audience is a natural fit for the content and it gives us a flexible distribution platform to expand into other territories.
We are also not limited by being a part of satellite or cable packages, since it’s basically an a-la-carte channel for those that are interested in anime. PlayStation has been a great partner for us in the past since we entered the Download-to-Own business, and they've really been excited and supportive of Neon Alley.
AV: Any plans to import Neon Alley to other platforms or devices?
BI: We may consider expansion to other platforms in the future - for now, we're working really hard on the exclusive Neon Alley launch on the PS3!
AV: Finding certain anime titles on Hulu's Roku box can occasionally be an exercise in frustration. Any word on how the interface for Neon Alley will work to prevent these types of issues?
BI: That’s the beauty of the service! There’s no searching or complicated interfaces to figure out, just turn it on when your favorite program is scheduled to run and that’s it! Fans who know what they want to watch can hone in on their favorite shows with the on-screen electronic programming guide for appointment viewing. Fans can also just tune in when they want to watch some high quality anime, and hopefully they’ll discover a show they didn’t even know they were missing.
Either way, it'll be like watching your favorite TV channel!
Neon Alley will feature the best uncut & dubbed content, and will include blockbusters like NARUTO SHIPPUDEN and hot new series like ZETMAN and TIGER & BUNNY. We're really excited to debut the BERSERK movie trilogy, as well. We're also thrilled to feature content not just from VIZ Media, but from other North American anime & content distributors, as well. BLUE EXORCIST from our partner Aniplex will be on the channel, as well as Asian martial arts movies from Taiseng - - please stay tuned for announcements of additional partners as we draw closer to the Neon Alley launch!
AV: What future shows would you like to add? Anything from back catalogues of your content partners?
BI: There's so many cool shows out there, and we're always looking for content that we feel can crossover with a mass audience as well as appeal to our core fan base - - it's hard to narrow it down!
AV: If you could bring one show you think a large audience hasn't seen yet, what would it be and why?
BI: We do think that there are a couple of shows in our current line-up debuting for the first time that will appeal to a broader audience. Please stay tuned for our forthcoming announcements - - we're working hard to sign some additional content partners, and can't announce anything quite yet, but we're sure our fans will be excited to hear what we've got in store next!