Question from Hahalollawl: “This season might not be representative, but lately does it seem like we’ve seen fewer sort of mid level hits? Like in the 5-10k range?”

Stared typing up a comment but it got long so I’ll toss it in a post, especially because there’s been some talk lately about broader disc sales trends in recent years so this might be a good place to collect that. Also reminds me I never did the JVA post update…

2011-2015 series by average

It’s complicated. 2011, 2013, 2015 have about the same percentage of 5,000-9,999 shows. 2012 was higher, 2014 was lower. But 2011 was higher in 10ks, so it was a lot better than 2014 all in all. 2014 was definitely down in terms of 5k+ series, only 1 in 5 versus 1 in 3 in 2012. 2015 is back around 1 in 4, where 2011 was.

Part of this is an increase in short shows which are virtually all expected to sell under 5k. But the biggest reason is simply that there’s a massive increase in shows overall, without a a massive increase in anime fans or disposable income to purchase those shows. Seems natural that average sales will drop in that case.

Total shows tracked by year:
2011: 91
2012: 105
2013: 125
2014: 144
2015: 146

The past two years are an increase in late night productions of more than 50% from 2011. That’s gigantic, and in just a few years! One naturally wonders where they think all the money to buy all these extra these shows will come from, but presumably they’re banking more heavily than ever on other revenue streams to supplement unavoidably lower disc sales. Especially things like mobage and international streaming and music/events.

If you look at the average of all averages per year (excluding “0” aka unranked shows), you get:
2011: 6,864
2012: 5,989
2013: 5,220
2014: 4,280
2015: 4,743

All these years have only a handful of “0” series, so even with excluding unranked shows they’re on roughly equal footing. So “average average” sales number has dropped about 2k a series (roughly a third!) in a couple years.

There’s a decrease in mega-hits too, as sales get spread thinner across many more series:

Year: 20k+, 30k+ (inclusive of 20k+)
2011: 8, 5
2012: 7, 4
2013: 5, 3
2014: 5, 2
2015: 5, 3

Less shows in past years + a higher percentage being mega-hits = higher “average average”.

I stopped at 2011 because as you get father back you run into more data quality issues and comparison is less meaningful. Also keep in mind not all 2015 shows are done, so some of those averages will drop slightly. I expect 2015 to end about where 2013 was, but with a lower average average due to more shows.

Also keep in mind 0-5, 5-10 and 10- are arbitrary categories. It doesn’t take much to change the percentages if a couple shows just below 5k had done slightly better or a couple shows just above 10k had done slightly worse. G Tekketsu for example will end below 10k, bringing 2015 to 15 10ks, not 16.

And I have to add once again that these numbers only reflect the late night (and handful of prime time) series I track here. and only shows with airing dates in those years. No movies, no OVAs, no back catalogue purchases, no rentals, etc. Those numbers are all important for measuring the broader health of the industry. This just covers one large but not all-encompassing portion of the market

So all that said, you’d need to analyze the numbers in a lot more detail than I have here to tease out all the trends, but they’re some rough numbers to look at.

15 Responses to “Trends in average sales by year, 2011-2015 (<5k, 5-10k, 10k+)”

  1. Guy says:

    I looked up a “Total Average”, by taking the number of shows and multiplying by the average average:

    2011: 624,624
    2012: 628,845
    2013: 652,500
    2014: 616,320
    2015: 692,478

    That really paints the overall number of sales as more or less the same, especially if 2015 will keep going down as the shows airing last year finish releasing their discs.

    It’s also interesting you ran this, because I’ve recently been wondering how the differing source materials stack against one another, such as, do manga get more mega-hits? Do anime originals have less “super poor sellers”? Etc.

    • something says:

      Yeah the relative consistency of those numbers shows just how much of the market is influenced by things outside of late night sales. For example, when you check the high level aggregated industry numbers from organizations like JVA, 2013 was a massively successful year while 2015 was down quite a lot in comparison (though the drop is much less when compared to 2012 or 2014). Maybe more new shows drags down catalog sales? Maybe movies and OVAs have a really big influence? Maybe the long tail not covered by Oricon can fluctuate heavily from year to year?

      It’s so difficult to compare the different data points measuring overall industry health because they are based on different assumptions. I focus pretty narrowly on late night which usually ends up painting a less negative picture than the broader numbers.

      I don’t have a lot of info as far as comparing the different media goes. The toughest part of that would be the huge differences in reporting thresholds. With the full and extended rankings, DVDs and BDs can get updates with less than 100 discs sold in some weeks, whereas the novel thresholds I’ve seen are usually closer to 3-7,000 and manga is just completely awful to track with thresholds of 15-25,000. Video games tend to have 2-10k thresholds depending on the tracker (Media Create vs Famitsu) and week.

      So for manga in particular the percentage of series that never rank at all is vastly higher than it is with anime, where almost everything ranks at least once these days. Manga simply never shows us the low-sellers at all. You can probably move 100,000 books lifetime for a volume and never make the weekly rankings… boo.

    • primadog says:

      Here you go:

      That VN 2011+ number jumps out at me.

      • something says:

        Oh right, I misread Guy’s question, it was about anime sales by source, not about how sales are distributed across those other media themselves.

        Regarding VNs, if you’re basing it on my source material designations, VNs are very very heavily affected by Utapri (18k, 33k, 36k) and Fate UBW (39, 36k) getting mixed into a relatively small category. Remove just those two franchises and the average drops by more than half to 3,494.

        • primadog says:

          Probably the case. The differential is much smaller when measured by median instead as well, and non-existent with those two franchises removed. Not surprising when we consider the law of averages. Of the primary source materials, VN is by far the smallest source, so most likely to be bouyed by a few outliers.

        • Jim says:

          Same is true of the 2011+ average in the “game” category also. That 5994 number is almost all on the backs of the Persona 4 (31k for P4 and 9816 for Golden) and Idolmaster (29k for IM@S and 29.5k for Cinderella Girls) franchises. Doing a quick and dirty calculation, without those two, the average of the remaining game adaptations drops to around 3062, even with the other massive outlier (KanColle at 19k) still included in the total. Take that one out too and the rest only averaged around 2420 (Show by Rock at 6823 was actually the “best of the rest”).

          • something says:

            Yeah, every category is going to be boosted by outliers, but these small categories are particularly susceptible. Median sales will typically smooth it out a lot.

      • Guy says:

        Interesting, thanks!

  2. Hahalollawl says:

    Wow interesting. Thanks for this. Seems like 2014 was pretty rough, while 2015 was maybe a tad better? And yeah, some of the categories may be arbitrary, but I like the Avg Avg. A lot may go into it, but it seems like the most comprehensive figure. For comparison among seasons it might not make much of a difference if they have similar numbers of unranked shows, but would adding the unranked shows skew the numbers too much if I were curious to see what that would make the Avg Avg for each year?

    Thanks again.

    • something says:

      Unranked shows are sort of a non-factor either way because in the time frame I used (2011-2015) there were only 2-5 unranked shows per year. The extended rankings cut down the number of “never ranked even once in any format” shows in recent years by quite a lot.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think 2015 showed us that time has finished for typical copy paste ecchi harem anime.Bahamut also failed.Its time for mainstream anime to dominate from now on.

    • something says:

      It’s not that simple. Most harem manga/LN stuff has always sold poorly, like like most, well, anything. But there are still hits in the genre just like anything else. And as long as the franchises are profitable on the whole, we’ll keep seeing adaptations even if they mostly serve as advertisement for other media.

  4. moonya says:

    I think it’s better to add median, not just average, to see the trend clearer. If you can, you can show 5 charts to see the skewness trend clearer

    • something says:

      Median is unchanged over 2011-2013, then drops considerably for 2014-2015 as the number of shows jumps. So same as average except 2011-2013 and 2014-2015 cluster most closely into two groups.

      2011 2831
      2012 2965
      2013 2851
      2014 2119
      2015 1988

      I also tried some charts but don’t know the best ones to use. They just coming out looking like a long line of dots clustering at the bottom of the chart below 10k, then a sudden spike upward for the last small batch of hits at the end. Ends up not looking very useful.

      • Audrey Azura says:

        Thank you very much for this really interesting post. Even though it’s not a peak at the overall wealth ofthe industry, I think it speak a lot about it.

        Regarding the charts, I think “Average Average vs time” and the “Total average” Guy calculated vs time should be interesting. This is I think the most representative numbers. All the other are really interesting too, but more specefic, so I don’t think a charts is needed for them.

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