Slowcast Season

Some companies take it easy–Anime Network most notably often releases their shows months after the initial broadcast dates. Others make a living getting it as soon as it’s legally possible. It’s not as interesting to grind out reasons why 3 or 7 days after first airing qualifies (or not) whatever it is as “simulcast.” Take this as an anecdote to the actual impact of delaying things. And realistically speaking, what counts for “too late”? At what point does the quality of service drops? What are the levels of impact?

I imagine it is going to vary from person to person, but here is my take. I’m also kind of curious as to what impact it is (which I know) versus what the delays are (which we’ll find out below).

Of the shows I’m still vaguely following and is being simulcasted, here are the release schedule as far as I can tell (thanks to Hashihime). Note that daylight savings is tricky but I’m factoring it in the calculation. Japan does not observe DST and the US does DST differently in some cases, and versus other countries. This means, namely, that the Spring and Autumn seasons cross the boundary, shortening or lengthening the delay by an hour. (This was a big deal for Fate/Zero S1 last year, if you were a East coaster following the simulcast.) To translate from JST to EDT, wind back 2 hours and flip AM/PM. So 7:00 JST would be 5PM EDT the day before, and 17:00 JST would be 3AM EDT of the same day.

  • Space Bros: Sunday 07:00 JST / Saturday 11PM Eastern (CR) – 6 hour gap. Note I used the main page show listing for the CR times.
  • Magi: Sunday 17:00 JST / Wednesday 1PM Eastern (CR) – 3 days and 10 hours gap.
  • Teekyuu: Sunday 22:27 JST / Sunday 10AM Eastern (CR) – 1 hour and 33 minutes…wait who cares about this show anyway
  • Muv-luv Alternative: Total Eclipse: Sunday 25:35 JST (Monday 1:35AM JST) / Sunday 1:30PM Eastern (CR) – 1 hour and 55 minutes gap
  • Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo: Monday 24:30 JST (Tuesday 12:30AM JST) / Wednesday 3:00PM Eastern (CR) – 2 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes gap.
  • Girls und Panzer: Monday 25:00 JST (Tuesday 1AM JST) / Wednesday 11:00AM Eastern (CR) – 2 days gap.
  • Jormungand: Perfect Order: Tuesday 24:30 JST (Wednesday 12:30AM JST) / Thursday 11:30AM Eastern (FUNi) – 2 days, 1 hour gap. Note I used the simulcast listing here for the times.
  • Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai: Wednesday 24:30 JST (Thursday 12:30AM JST) / Thursday 10:30AM Eastern (AN) – 10 hours gap. Note I used the mouseover text for listing on episodes 11 and 12 on this page.
  • Ebiten: This is a joke, but it is airing on Wednesday at 25:00 JST. Because I have no idea when it streamed on Nico last season LOL.
  • Medaka Box: Abnormal: Wednesday 25:30 JST (Thursday 1:30AM JST) / Friday 2:35AM Eastern (CR) – 1 day, 15 hours and 5 minutes gap. This is a weird one.
  • Psycho-Pass: Thursday 24:45 JST (Friday 12:45AM JST) / Thursday 11:45AM Eastern (FUNi) – 1 hour gap.
  • Robotic;Notes: Thursday 25:15 JST (Friday 1:15AM JST) / Friday 12:15AM Eastern (FUNi) – 1 day, 1 hour gap.
  • Hidamari Sketch: Honeycomb: Thursday 25:25 JST (Friday 1:25AM JST) / Monday 11:25AM Eastern (AN) – 3 days gap. Note I used these dates (mouseover) for episodes 11 and 12.
  • K: Thursday 25:30 JST (Friday 1:30AM JST) / Thursday…afternoon Eastern (Viz) – I can’t find the precise time listed but it’s advertised as Thursday afternoon, giving it up to 7.5 hours for gap, although it could be as short as 0 minutes! As you can see I’m not following this one that close.
  • Zetsuen no Temptest: Thursday 26:00 JST (Friday 2AM JST) / Thursday 3PM Eastern (CR) – 3 hour gap.
  • Oniai: Friday 23:00 JST / Friday 12:30PM Eastern (FUNi) – 3 hours and 30 minutes…by that I mean 1 WEEK 3 hours and 30 minutes gap because FUNi’s stream started a week later.
  • Shin Sekai Yori: Friday 24:30 JST (Saturday 12:30AM JST) / Tuesday 3:40PM Eastern (CR) – 3 days, 17 hours and 10 minutes gap.

I wonder if DST the reason why FUNi’s Psycho-Pass is an hour behind. Was it also an hour late in October? Even more side speculation: did AN move back their Hidasketch stream? Anyway, these are just side questions.

Some immediate observations. You can reconcile them to those above data as you will.

Simulcast with 1 week delay is no longer very useful. I’d say it even loses its main purpose for existing. I watch the fansubs for Oniai, because I have to watch it week-to-week, even if I do have access to FUNi’s simulcast. “Why do I have to be in a hurry?” I don’t, and I am not, but then I would be doing a pretty lousy job of episode blogging. That’s okay, the onus is on me, but obviously here “simulcast” is not an enabler as per its moniker on a practical level. However imagine if you didn’t have FUNi’s Elite access–you’ll be waiting 2 weeks to watch it. That takes all the air out of following a show up to date; you’re basically better of waiting until the season is over. And in that sense, 2 weeks of delay is not so different than 13 weeks of delay. I’m not quite ready to say that for 1 week of delay, however.

I do watch some shows right when it comes out via simulcast. For whatever the reason, historically, I watch noitaminA shows the day it airs (well, < 36hr), partly thanks to FUNi’s vigilant effort, which gets proper follow up by CR. Now that FUNi is doing it this season, it gets the job done partly…for the most part. Here is the first new finding: I associate Psycho-Pass with Robotic;Notes because of their brand name, programming segment. So in that sense, if I am reminded to watch one I will also watch the other. Unfortunately, because of the 1-day delay between the two streams I end up watching Robotic;Notes often days later (during the weekend), since I am usually unable to remind myself of Robotic;Notes if I already watched Psycho-Pass on Thursday. It’s funny and it shows me getting longer in the tooth, but more than once I would try to watch Robotics;Notes on a Thursday and go “oh, it’s not out yet.”

The second note is that simulcasts during the week often works okay if it’s delayed until the weekend. I don’t know, I can watch more anime during the weekend. I don’t often do so, but I can catch up if the opportunity presents itself. This tends to happen with K, Chuunikoi, and Jormungand, even if those aren’t really delayed so much (in K’s case, not really even).

Some shows just makes putting off easier than other. I think despite Space Bro and Muv-luv being simulcasted on the weekend I tend to watch them during the week. Part of that is also my weekends tend to be pretty busy, and both shows screen on Sunday, which I always have less free time than Friday night or Saturday. You can’t pre-catch-up to a show that hasn’t aired, etc. If it means anything, I used to watch both shows last season right around when they first come up, or at least by Sunday night at the latest; not so much this season.

I don’t have an AN account anymore, so I don’t even follow Hidamari Sketch and Chuunikoi very closely and I probably shouldn’t count them as I have no access to those streams. Even so, I watch them within 14 days, usually less than 7, of broadcast. Actually I don’t even keep track of their airing dates, and I look for them during lulls in my viewing schedule. If we use this as some kind of control case, I probably average 1-2 days for Chuu2koi and closer to a week for Hidamari Sketch.

It seems any delay less than 24 hours is not a big deal. I tend to watch them with that sort of lead time. I’d say 36 hours, maybe. I stopped tracking when things are released when the delay gets more than 1 calendar day off, however. Medaka Box is a show that has a tight window but I tend to put it off, despite that it might be a nice show to watch on the dot every week, and despite that it has a relatively short delay. It does have a relatively harmless delay on top of being short, too, so it mitigates things.

When it comes to Sakurasou, Shin Sekai Yori and Girls und Panzer, I’ve been pretty good at dodging spoilers. I don’t have to so much for Magi for some reason, but it is still possible. Thanks, people who tweet the episode and actually don’t offer opinions but simply describe what happens with statements of the obvious in the form of exclamation-baked … exclamations.  And LOOK AT THIS SCREEN SHOT! As a practical matter, spoiling on the internet is always something of a risk and simulcast timing doesn’t really help that much. The main thing is once we move past the initial 6 or so hours, most people who will watch it ASAP has already done so. And honestly if your simulcast may be 0-minute delayed but I won’t be able to watch something that airs at 12:30PM Eastern until I get home, which is at least 6 hours later anyway.  There’ll be some stragglers who will do the same over the next 48 hours and having a faster simulcast time will cut that down, but that typically is much less often.

To boil it down, these are probably the these most relevant factors to make more people watch simulcasts:

  • Day of the week. It is better to stream shows on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays than Monday through Wednesday. Primarily, it’s because people tend to get more free time later on in the week and the way the news cycle begins and ends usually on the weekend. This is very much the biggest beef I have with this season. I actually don’t mind if everything comes out Thursday, that gives me time to watch them over the weekend and by Monday I’d be ready for the next round. FUNi’s delays on Jormungand is a good example of doing it right, where as Magi, Girls und Panzer, and Sakurasou are the ways to do it wrong. Magi especially is a double-offender, because it could get a Saturday PM simulcast, but noooo. All three shows also miss out on being in the wheelhouse of the JP news/reaction cycle since by the time they’re available, it’s half way through the week and it’s the time to watch all those Thursday shows.
  • Type of story. Some shows are more of a nail-biter, cliff-hanging than others. And then there’s Teekyu. I imagine this is not usually a major distinguishing factor, but imagine if Madoka episode 13 was spoiled to you in this way. That kinda sucks. More importantly, this is an argument for always 0-day simulcast, all the time. It’s just some shows are more resistant to delays than others.
  • Things that prompt people to watch. For me this is blogging, and seeing one show and how it reminds me of another. This also can mean seeing blog posts showing up in their feed or twitter time line when others are watching the shows. By being aware of how these things work, you can delay shows for more or less to minimize opportunity cost of your viewers’ limited attention span. I also touch on this for “day of the week” because there is an internet news cycle, and it does remind people to watch things.
  • Don’t confuse your viewers with funky release times. Talk to your licensees and delay things as need be, but make it easy to follow.
  • And I probably shouldn’t need to say this, it’s almost 2013 for crying out loud: A week is too long. Tell your licensors to not even bother if this is a constraint, save yourself the money or whatever.

And also, AN, fix your website, it is a usability sinkhole. I’m surprisingly okay with “Thursday afternoon” regarding Viz’s timestamps, but I appreciate more precision (like, by the hour). Well, I suspect this has to do with getting your shows out on a weekday before the evening so I can just watch it at home, so “before 6PM” is sufficient.

I guess I should put this disclaimer here: it’s uncertain as to when do most simulcast viewers watch their anime: during the week? On the weekends? On their commute (no way)? In the AM? In the PM? Between classes? Lunch breaks? I have no answers for you. But I think my pattern is not unlike most working persons’ pattern, since there’s a notion of what people do once they get a job. Do most anime fans work normal 9-5-esqe jobs? Maybe in another 5 years? I suppose if you work weekends and take the odd weekday off, your schedule will invariably differ.

Another disclaimer here is that I’m going to assume if there’s a simulcast, you want people to watch it. You being the provider of these services. So hopefully these observations go to that goal.


2 Responses to “Slowcast Season”

  • dm00

    But you don’t do episode blogging, so what’s a week’s delay?

    I guess simulcast delays may have contributed to my not reading episode blogs, except I rarely read them, anyway.

    The only thing that makes me watch a show within a day of it’s being available in whatever form is eagerness to see what happens next (Horizon, Madoka, Fate/stay nought). This season, there’s nothing showing that I can’t wait a few days to see.

    I have a list of when shows are simulcast, and another list of shows I should check out. When I’m in the mood for anime, I check those. “Oh, a new episode of Hidamari Sketch came out on TheAnimeNetwork a few days ago. That’ll do.”

    As to when, I generally watch in the evening, rarely more than two shows in an evening. Weekends, I’m often too busy.

    • omo

      I do episode blogging over at japanator.com

      I do read episodic blogging as well. But it’s more about just getting news. Basically all the 2ch matome blogs do some kind of coverage for the shows I watch, and it’s not uncommon to have news break in a show every season. If I didn’t care about the news so much, or talking online with people who watch shows as they come out, it might not matter.

      Even modding MTF requires the kind of anti-spoilerness that I’m referring to.

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