Long overdue, “Why I severely dislike Crunchyroll” post.

I know there are a few large fans of Crunchyroll out there, and before you go grab your pitchforks and torches, let me clear up one thing.  I support legal anime distribution whenever possible, but I’m not too good to say that I don’t watch fansubs.  I do, live with it or stop reading here if you’re too good for me, but I’m not an idiot, I know it’s not legal, but so is rolling through a stop sign, but everyone still does it.  My problem is that anime distribution is going in a direction I’m not happy with.  That said, I think that all legal online distribution is going in a direction I’m not happy with.  Crunchyroll is just a good example; feel free to replace Crunchyroll with Hulu, YouTube, or your choice of streaming media providers.

I had intended this to be a post about how anime showing on Crunchyroll has less of a chance of being licensed by distributors that use physical media, also known as DVDs.  But, Section23 has come back and picked up many series already streaming on Crunchyroll.  This is good, and I’m happy to see that, and will end up supporting those series with physical media purchases, but not with streaming.

So Crunchyroll’s existence came into being by what I like to call a form of extortion.  They pretty much took fansubs which were illegal anyway, and started showing them on their site without a word of apology.  After a while of that, and catching a lot of attention, they stopped doing streaming illegal fansubs because someone gave them some money, and they had to start following non-shady business practices. A few Japanese studios signed up, and the site as we know it today was re-kindled into the simulcast outfit they’re known as today.

Welcome to now, not only do we get anime on Crunchyroll, Youtube shows it, and so does Hulu, and we can’t forget The Anime Network.  So after all this rambling, here are my issues with streaming media, which can encompass much more than anime.

  • Bandwidth: In America, the FCC defines broadband as a minimum of 768kbps. This is, for all intents and purposes a joke.  Just try and watch a streaming site with that tiny number and you will get the dreaded buffering ring of pain.  Now I realize that most of us are sitting here having a good time on much faster than that.  But, I have a really good connection, and I start videos and need to walk away from them so they have time to buffer.  Nothing ticks me off more than the buffering ring. Add to this that more and more ISPs are considering metering your bandwidth, and you’re looking at a terrible proposition as shows get larger because of HD.  And if you want to watch them more than once, which personally I do quite often, you basically need to re-download it.  Metered bandwidth is less the fault of the streaming sites, and more ignorant Brass at the ISPs trying to nickel and dime the public some more.
  • Ownership: This is the elephant in the room. When you watch a streaming show, you see it, and then it’s gone.  Additionally, you can’t put it on your computer, your TV, or your iPod/Pad, streaming apps aside of course.  If I like something enough, which I do with anime, I want a copy for me, I want something that I can show my wife, my cousin, or my brother-in-law.  Had I streamed the copy of Chu-Bra, how do I show my wife she’s wearing the wrong bra for her bust size?  I can re-stream it, but that sucks; see Bandwidth above.  This is a proposition that I have no desire to undertake.  I like to collect my anime, and that requires physical media.  Not to mention that if a streaming site decides to no longer host the show you want to watch anymore, the game is over if there isn’t a physical media license as well, which again is a problem that DVD ownership corrects.
  • Not just anime:  What’s lovely about the streaming proposition for what I like to call, “Big Media,” is that they now have you in their walled garden.  This is great for them, because someone will come up with the idea of paying per watch.

To conclude this rambling mess, I’ll say this.  Streaming puts the control of the media out of your hands and into the media provider, and your ISP.  I fully believe that digital delivery will become the norm someday, but I’m going to pass until I can own the media, without DRM by the way.


11 responses to “Long overdue, “Why I severely dislike Crunchyroll” post.

  1. It’s streaming, but I figured, the blog is anime centric, and I’ve said to many folks that I dislike them. Figured it was time to get my rant out.

  2. Same can be said with cloud computing. When we use cloud services like Google Docs, you are giving up your control of your files, which can contrast to streaming.

    Yes, there is a Crunchyroll app that works on the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, but it requires a internet connection still. Good luck streaming over AT&T’s 3G network since unlimited is actually a 5 GB cap per month. This can be said with my Youtube streaming on my iPhone over 3G. Ever since I went back to school, the data usage on my iPhone skyrocked to 321,1 in the matter of two/3 weeks! This can happen to any smartphone, add Youtube to the equation, it will use your data.

    The great thing with fansubs is you can download once and replay it or convert to other devices, which streaming won’t give you no matter how you try. Services like Crunchyroll should really give downloadable copies for subscribers to put on their devices or rewatch on their computer so that we don’t have to use bandwidth to watch it over again.

    I prefer owning the series I like and enjoy so keeping the fansubs may not be moral if you can obtain the DVDs, but you have a point where niche shows like Chu-Bra might never get a licensed release and the fear of CR eventually removing it from the site. What then is our only choice… buying the Japanese DVDs? What?

    • Fansubs are a very touchy subject, but without importing R2s and learning Japanese, it’s pretty hard to collect stuff that’s not licensed in the US. I didn’t even think to touch on folks not in the US. But, at least to me, there are other ways to support the industry in Japan, like collecting figures, official art books, etc… It might help me sleep better at night.

    • It depends on your cloud computing. For myself, cloud computing is computing, not just running a web service on the cloud. It goes deeper, computing something, trying to figure out a problem that cannot be solved on a single computer, but happens to parallelize well.

      The brilliance [and difference] with cloud computing is that you are in control. It’s your result. You can save it on your phone or whatever, and take it along for the snow ride.

      The cloud seems related on the top, but for general web services, it’s the same shnit. Only when we use the cloud as a tool is it something more… It’s under our control, big media isn’t touching it. (likely because it isn’t “free”)

  3. But don’t the have a funny relationship with that which made them popular. Biting the hand which fed… They are in a predicament anyhow as I don’t think they have the profit margin to up their streaming capacity.

    Hulu and Youtube are much larger beasts, so there’s no reason they can’t provide a reasonable feed, but … why the hell do I want to go to their site to watch it more than once?

    And the big media will keep pwning their user-base. (lol)

    • Lots of internet “ventures” are going to have to pay the piper sooner or later. If these sources dry up because they can’t pay the bills, what happens to the shows they’ve licensed?

  4. Pingback: kimaguresan on Crunchy and Big Media - aloe, dream

  5. This is a tired old argument, but it is well written!

    I think it’s perfectly ok to not care about CR or any streaming site, but clearly there are a lot of people who do like it and support those practices. And in the end, more choices.

    One thing I have to say is that the licensing situation is a lot more complicated than this post indicates, so don’t believe everything you read exactly.

    • Yes…agree it’s a tired argument. I also like more choices, but I’m especially concerned with streaming becoming the only choice at some point. With big media already giving the consumer the line that we never owned the disc we bought, that it always was a license for the content on the disc, I can see them cutting over to full digital distro in the next few years to cut out the physical constraint. The supply/demand curve for bandwidth will need to be fulfilled, but ISPs are acting stupid at the moment. I don’t see ISPs shaping up until there’s some real competition for bandwidth here in the states.

      And yes, licensing is certainly more complicated than I let on. I’d love to know more, but I’m certainly no expert.

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