Yesterday news began to spread about Bandai Entertainment downsizing their presence in North America. Today Anime News Network is reporting that:
On January 3rd, the publisher is announcing that it will cease to release new DVD and Blu-ray releases in North America, effectively ending its 13-year run in the market. The majority of the division's contractors and three of their five full-time staff members will be laid off, and all releases scheduled after the first week of February have been cancelled.
The article also explains why:In a decision made last October, but only now becoming public knowledge, Bandai Entertainment's corporate parent at Namco Bandai Holdings made the decision to exit the American home video business. Iyadomi says he wasn't privy to the fine details. "The decision was made in Japan by the contents SBU (Strategic Business Unit)." That business unit originally included the video games division, but recently was merged with all of the company's audio visual businesses, including Sunrise, Bandai Visual and Bandai Channel.
The physical anime business in North America has shrunk substantially over the last five years, and shows no sign of returning to its former glory. "A couple of times we were hit with huge returns, and the financial result was pretty bad," Iyadomi admits. Still, he believes the division might have been able to keep going for a few more years, had the SBU allowed it.
"The pricing range for our products kept dropping in Western countries, and people tended only to buy sets with very reasonable prices, which we understand is what fans want, but it lead us to a different strategy than what Japanese licensors wanted," he remarked. "So we always had a problem [with licensors wanting something different than what consumers wanted]."
If you want to get a sense of the issues facing our industry this article is a must read.