Competition, money saving and consumers. Case of Crunchyroll

This is rough piece of writing I though I would write quickly. Don’t be too mindful about it (not that people will care)

 

Competition, it’s something that humans always like. We always want to show off and prove that we’re better than other person, people or a group. It’s also encouraged innovation between companies. Competition is there so that consumers get a choice. Oh you don’t like this brand of tea? Go get another company’s tea. Oh you don’t like this phone from Samsung, apple, htc or sony? Don’t worry; there are hundreds of companies who want your money.

Of course, this isn’t always true anymore which is evident from state of American and Australian ISP situation. You see, consumers love competition, it means choice. But businesses will do anything to have monopoly in a service or a sector they reside in. simply, that’s how they can make most money.

Now, why am I saying all this? Because Crunchyroll has made a decision that baffle me and probably everyone who were (and still are) using to their service. They have decided to lower the bit-rate of their videos after 48 hours (originally 24) in order to save cost on the bandwidth used when streaming a video.

Now I won’t go into technically detail of downgrading the bitrate and it’s implications since I’m not well versed in such technical subject and also, someone else has done very good job of it.  Also I understand that Crunchyroll has come out to say that they will no longer use old encoder and will use their new encoding going forward, but once again I will not be talking about technical details of new encoder.

So why the hell am I writing this then?

Few months ago, it was announced that Funimation and Crunchyroll has partnered up and will be brining anime to wider audience as possible. And that I have made a post saying how great this news is for the anime industry in western world and the fact that I cannot wait to see the result that comes due to this decision.

Well. This is the result.

We live in a world where striving competition cause innovation of technologies. Each companies want to sell their product, and in order to do so they try to one up their competition, and as consumers we’ve got multiple choices that we can choose from. However it’s difficult to have a competition in niche market such as anime industry in the west. Problem arise when lack of competition occurs creating monopoly like Crunchyroll has. Since there are no competitors to choose from, they will get away with bare minimum effort and still generate a cash flow from consumers who can’t go anywhere else.

When I wrote about Funimation and Crunchyroll partnership, I (naively) thought that consumers will be in their up most interest. Especially when thinking back on where Crunchyroll has come from it would have been impossible to be this successful without support from the consumers. What I failed to recognise as big threat, although I did recognise that it was possible negative outcome of this partnership, is that with Crunchyroll now has one less competition to worry about, and these two companies easily being two biggest anime distributors in the western world. With Daisuki and Anime Lab needing to play massive catch up, it does look like Crunchyroll can do anything at this moment and get away with it.

Hopefully their “new encode” will fix all the concerns that people were having, but it is still bad practice of them to notify us of this decision after users have been noticing the general decrease in quality of the service. But for now, I have suspended my subscription to their premium offerings and will not re-subscribe until I notice a significant upgrade in both video quality and customer service.

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