NYAF: Woah, FUNi and Niconico get hitched, form Funico
Now THIS is big news, especially for the streaming crowd. North American anime giant FUNimation has officially shacked up with Niconico.com, the English-language incarnation of Japanese Youtube-killer Nico Nico Douga, to form a joint venture called "Funico", a new outfit that will be handling licensing duties for both companies.
Going forward, Niconico.com will be streaming Funico-licensed shows, and FUNimation will be releasing Funico-licensed shows on home video. Plans are in place to put Funico-licensed shows on various download-to-own services, including the ones FUNi already has in place. Non-American viewers might benefit as well, as Niconico has its own agreements in place. Having FUNi on board might expand the range of shows available to international viewers, since North America tends to get the lion's share of streaming deals, with overseas members left to scramble for delayed broadcasts or third-tier shows.
If it plays its cards right, Funico may become to the anime industry what Steam is to PC gaming: a one-stop shop for anime big and small that might just approach ubiquity. Any show that wants to get anywhere might want to court Funico. NicoNico is already growing as a prominent streaming channel, with high-profile shows like Last Exile -Fam-, Fate/Zero, Guilty Crown, and Mirai Nikki under its belt. Oh, and Uta-Pri. Critics of NicoNico (particularly of its video quality) may find some satisfaction in the company's promises to improve its encoding tech as well as offering HD video to subscribers.
It's still a little too soon to tell just how this will pan out. Japanese companies have been notoriously stubborn (and arguably behind-the-times) when it comes to gauging and catering to the international market, and it'll take effort on both sides to make Funico work in a big way (NicoNico being natively a Japanese firm helps in that regard).
This could be really, really big, people. What are you thinking? Setup email comments
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