Fun With Numbers: Long-Tail Figures and Uncharted Territory

Recently, via the creation of a second OpusData trial account, I was able to acquire some new data that sheds light on how several newer US anime release performed in the long term. This includes 5 releases (Attack on Titan: Part 2, One Piece Film Z, The Wind Rises, Evangelion: Ha, The Tale of Princess Kaguya) for which we have at least one week of sales data already, plus 4 releases (Momo, Hal, Bayonetta, The Cat Returns) that came out in the 12 months and failed to chart once. Excluding Evangelion: Ha, and The Cat Returns, all of these titles came out between September and November 2014, so they’re roughly comparable in terms of the amount of time since release they’ve had to accrue new sales.

[Note: OpusData and TheNumbers, where I usually get what hard US video sales data I post, are owned and operated by the same company, Nash Info Services.]

The info that can be gleaned from them is interesting, but let me just say right now that I’m really happy about the clerical error that logged Attack on Titan’s second set as a movie, and hence trackable long-term in the Opus database.

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Shimizu Kenji Comments on Fuji TV Dropping Weekday Anime (Narinari)

On August 15th, Shimizu Kenji, executive producer of many of Fuji TV’s most successful anime, comments on why the station decided to drop its weekday anime. According to him, the 19:00/7PM weekday timeslots were reasonable through most of the 1980s but saw a steep dropoff due to the increased prevalence of cram schools (keeping more kids from being home until late, when adult-oriented programs such as the Monday 9 dramas were already entrenched in their own slots) and the decreasing Japanese birthrate (thus shrinking the total number of kids available as an audience). Large audiences were vital to terrestrial Fuji TV, which explains why UHF (Ultra High Frequency waveband) stations were able to continue to broadcast anime in those same slots.

Original Article: http://www.narinari.com/Nd/20150833194.html

As a companion to Shimizu’s commentary here, it’s worth noting a few things. One, while the Monday and Thursday 19:00 slots died sequentially with Sakigake! Otokojuku in 1988 (started on Thursdays, moved to Mondays, was the last anime in both slots), the Wednesday slot lasted a full decade longer (ending in 2001). Wednesday 19:00, by the way, was the Akira Toriyama legacy slot that ran a combination of Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball from 1981-1999, then picked up One Piece for 2 years before said program shifted to Sunday evenings in 2001.

Two, at least in the case of One Piece, which admittedly moved much later than the others and is more popular than your average franchise, ratings seem to react negatively to slot changes. In 2001, the average ratings of the last 3 months of One Piece airing in its Wednesday slot (15.0) actually beat what it had over the first 3 months of its Sunday afternoon slot (14.7). In 2005, One Piece actually averaged a point less (12.1->11.0) when it shifted back in time by half an hour. And in 2006, when the show shifted from Sunday evenings to 9:30 in the morning, the ratings fell off a cliff (10.7->6.5), though they’ve improved somewhat since.

Three, the network briefly tried to capitalize on the Toriyama legacy slot by sticking a second anime slot right after it, starting from Kuma no Puutarou in 1995. This slot carried Rurouni Kenshin and the first few episodes of GTO, but that experiment ended at the same time the 1997 Dr. Slump anime did, in October of 1999. It’s possible that executives assumed that the then-new One Piece wouldn’t be able to provide the same kind of ratings tail necessary to support the secondary slot that the Toriyama shows had, or maybe Dr. Slump wasn’t providing the ratings tail that Dragonball had and they decided to phase out the Wednesday slots in pieces.

Fourth, TV Tokyo, one of Fuji TV’s major competitors, actually *launched* a large number of weekday 18:00 timeslots in the early 1990s, as did Nihon TV and NHK. Just based on how long some of those slots have lasted, at least some weekday anime was demonstrably viable throughout the 1990s. Reduced weekday competition from Fuji TV may have helped TV Tokyo maximize the returns it got airing Naruto, Bleach, and other weekday long-runners.

At any rate, the translated article text can be read below.
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Fun With Numbers: Precedent for Long Tails in US Anime Sales Totals

Though there are plenty of sources out there from which one can learn about it, the inner workings of the US anime market are often characterized by what we don’t know. I track US anime releases on amazon because I’m curious about said market. That curiosity has several points of origin, but I chasing after one primary question; do fans buy the titles one would think they buy, to the extent one would think, from their presence on social media?

But tracking US amazon rankings is only useful insofar as these rankings have the potential to correspond to real sales data. And even that’s not particularly useful if the “real” data has the potential to be off by a factor of 100 due to unpredictable factors. One obvious potential contributor to the potential for underestimations are long tails, the combined contribution of totals from all weeks the release doesn’t make the threshold on a given set of charts. These are a very familiar foe when it comes to trying to compare sales figures, and are definitely worth addressing. There’s plenty of reason to believe long tails might be a factor in the US home video market – per-episode prices are much lower than they are in Japan, and thresholds are much higher.

I previously used a trial account to access the lifetime home-video sales totals of various anime movies in Nash Information Services’ OpusData database. Recently, I found out that the companion website to the service TheNumbers, stores years worth of back-data on its weekly charts, though its thresholds are, by design, severely limited compared to those measured on OpusData. Using those charts, it was a trivial task to go back to each movie’s release date and check how much of its lifetime total was accumulated while it was on the BD20/DVD30 toplists. Note that 2 of the 12 movies in the original sample never made said toplists and thus cannot be compared. Results are shown after the break.

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Fun With Numbers: One Piece Film Z Sold 6,199 Copies on Week 1

Another datapoint from the late September-early October rush of titles with early ranks made the charts. This time, it’s One Piece Film Z, a release split between DVD and BD/DVD combo pack sales that totaled a little over 6000 between them in their opening sales week. You can check the full list here while it’s up (screenshot after the jump).

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Fun With Numbers: September 2014 US Amazon Data (Initial Numbers)

August was a boring month as far as high-powered releases go. September is not, and there are a couple of series (particularly the Steins Gate combo pack hovering around 1500 with 4 weeks to go and the second half of Attack on Titan) which figure to have a pretty decent chance of making the US BD charts and providing really useful data. 4 solid datapoints wouldn’t be much, but it’s a lot better than 2. I could get more pumped about that if one of the release titles due out this month weren’t straight-up false advertising.

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Timeslot History: Anime on Fuji TV (1994-2000)

After a few too many hours on various Japanese database sites, I’ve finally managed to compile a 99% complete list of anime which first aired from 1994-2000, along with their respective timeslots. If you’re curious about the details, you can find the data I’ve gathered on this spreadsheet. Note on the format: the master list has just the networks, timeslots, and years of airing. Other sheets contain the shows aired in a given year and those aired on non-Japanese TV, with relevant links for the numerous series for which the Japanese wikipedia page didn’t provide sufficient information on the timeslot.

There’s a lot of information there, so I’m going to try and slice it up to make it a bit easier to digest. One fairly natural division for TV shows is the networks (or family of networks) they were broadcast on. The major players in new anime over this period were Fuji TV, MBS/TBS, NHK, Nihon TV, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, and WOWOW, each of which will be covered in the next couple of weeks.

For each broadcaster, I’ll be asking two questions. First, which, if any slots did they have dedicated to anime in general? To qualify as an anime slot for the purposes of this exercise, a timeslot has to have aired premieres of at least 3 TV anime from 1994 to 2000. This excludes, for example, the Fuji TV Sunday 18:30 slot, which has been running Sazae-san for a really long time. I’m more interested in timeslots that would have been available to new shows during this period.

Second, which, if any shows did that broadcaster air after midnight? I want to give as complete a view as possible on the stance different companies took in regards to airing anime late at night. Since I’ve been poring over the data, I already have a decent idea of what the answer is going to be, but it’s neat to look at how different broadcasters’ stances were during this period.

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Fun With Numbers: Various US Anime Movie Disk Sales Totals

I recently made a trial account on opusdata to see what I could scrounge up as far as anime data goes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a ton of data, since the backlog of weekly charts are anything but free. But I did come away with their sales figures for a couple different anime movies, whose sales ranged from over a million to a couple thousand depending on how mainstream the title was:

anime_movies-us_salesThe One Piece/Fairy Tail movie numbers may or may not be reflective of what the shows regularly put up. I have a couple volumes’ worth of data for each, and plan on estimating what their long-term sales are after I get additional confirmation of the amazon model I’m currently using. It does seem, based on a cursory glance at the current rankings of March/April releases, like US releases have fairly long tails.