Pauline Kaen and Illegal Streaming

March 11th, 2016 by Author

Omo polemizes with a comically bootlicking article, which claims that illegal streaming bankrupts anime, but bases revenue calculations on prices to legal uses multiplied by numbers of illegal users — which are unknown. We heard it all before in the form of "if every illegal user of Windows in Russia paid the full U.S. retail price of Windows, the revenues of Microsoft would be N gazillion of dollars more than they are now, therefore piracy costs Microsoft N gazillion". This idea continues to be as dumb as it was in the 80s and 90s.

Still, I’m kind of curious: how many actually watch on illegal streaming? Again, if we look at a historic example, when scanlation sites started to became popular, I heard from stalwarts that sites are a ridiculous fad, it’s trivial to torrent and unpack a rar archive, reading in a proper image reader is much more convenient. The reality was rather different, as we all know, and scanlation sites are by far the preferred way for readers to access manga. Legal sites like Jmanga struggled for years now, although one can’t help noticing that Crunchy is making a good effort. Their selection cannot hope to cover enough of manga’s variety, their business model is difficult because of manga’s low cost.

So, by analogy, one would expect all the teens flocking to the illegal sites, but I cannot be sure. I don’t use illegal streaming at all, and nobody in my social circle does (except perhaps through Youtube). The experience is too unpleasant. Streaming performance of illegal sites is unacceptable, despite the grotesquely poor quality. Their advertisement presents significant security challenges. But what I’m concerned about is Pauline Kael effect: first not one person you know votes Trump, next the whole country votes Trump, and who are all those people? What if illegal streaming is actually hurting anime industry, in the same way the lying industry scumbags told use fansubs hurt the industry, only for real? A frightening thought, to be sure. I wish the effect could be measured somehow.