TAB does the work to get real numbers.
Here's one piece of data:
Anime sales in the US (does not include revenues from theater box offices or TV broadcast):
- 2002 - $500 million
- 2003 - $550 million
- 2004 - $500 million
- 2005 - $450 million
- 2006 - $400 million
Anime releases (DVDs) in the US:
- 2001 - 439
- 2002 - 562
- 2003 - 727
- 2004 - 733
- 2005 - 756
- 2006 - 617
- 2007 - 500+ (projected)
Took them 2 years to notice that sales peaked, from 2003 to 2005.
UPDATE: Aziz makes an interesting point at the bottom of an unrelated post:
Anime R1 DVD sales peaked in 2003 and have been declining ever since. I speculate without evidence that 2003 was when fansubbing really started as an industry in its own right.
Aziz does not have the evidence, but the industry does. Why would not they trot out the numbers for fansub downloads and for bootleg sales? Then we could easily see if fansubs were hurting DVDs at all.
The reason they haven't done so is because the numbers are likely to tell a different story. Haruhi was downloaded 10,000 times, and sold 60,000 DVDs (the number 10 thousand was thrown about when ADV mulled a subscription service). So, even if fansubs were eating DVD sales, they would've sold 70,000 DVDs without fansubs. Hardly enough evidence to explain the whole collapse. No wonder they do not want us to know the numbers.
UPDATE UPDATE: Aziz wrote in to correct the record. His main point was that perhaps the region coding was the major driver behind the existence of the fansub market (he didn't mention it, but this is how the issue ties in with his main post).
He may be right at least somewhat, although even if we're in the same region, American, British, and Australian fans need English dubbing. So we cannot consume expensive Japanese releases as a rule. The amount of effort I expended on the language was just enormous, and I do not see normal people going down that road. The bigger issue would be the reverse importation. That, however is possible even today, for any Japanese person with a computer and a Samsung DVD drive. I do not think that the abolishement of regions would change a lot, but certainly it is a positive development. I would love to watch my R2 DVDs with my family on our entertainment stack.
UPDATE: Animerique re-reportssame numbers with greater detail, unquestionably parrots the line of "fans are downloading anime rather than buying the dvds".
By the way, scanlations are all the rage as well, but manga is booming. Why is that? Maybe because manga is only 10 bucks a volume?