Similar to what HBO Max did back in 2021, Netflix launched an ad-supported plan at the start of November. At a cheaper price, it’s the streamer’s way of bringing in more users to balance out its loss of subscribers from earlier in the year. That alone would be notable, given Netflix’s prior comments about bringing ads to its service, but the new plan’s existence also has some unintended consequences for the streamer’s anime selection.
Recently, The Japan Times reported that the country’s broadcasting network NHK (Nippon Housou Kyoukai) requested that Netflix remove 22 anime titles previously aired by NHK from its catalog, even for the ad-free plans. This all stems from NHK’s standards for internet services: it doesn’t distribute programs if there’s a chance viewers will believe the network’s directly recommending a specific product. Beyond that, NHK was allegedly misled on what the Basic with Ads plan actually was. While the network initially agreed on its shows being included, NHK claims that Netflix didn’t really explain the service’s purpose until shortly before launch.
In a statement provided to The Japan Times, Netflix said it’s since stopped showing ads on NHK programs. The shows currently or previously aired on NHK that are featured on Netflix include Vinland Saga, To Your Eternity, and Attack on Titan. For those who have multiple streaming services, there’s some some good news: Attack on Titan is also on Hulu, and Vinland’s second season will premiere on Crunchyroll in January 2023, so its first season may jump ship. But at time of writing, neither party have said what shows may be affected as they continue negotiations.
The possibility of Netflix losing nearly two dozen anime is definitely a setback, as it’s been adding anime to its lineup pretty regularly in recent years. With how popular anime’s become over the years, and how weird streaming rights can sometimes get for shows, other services could easily snatch up any affected shows and their specific fanbases, providing another hit to Netflix’s subscriber numbers.
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