Internet retailer Amazon terminated its curated streaming service Anime Strike on Friday just one year after its launch. Anime Strike provided Amazon Prime customers in the United States with access to more than one thousand anime episodes and movies for a $4.99 monthly subscription fee. The streaming service also shut down its Facebook and Twitter pages, which had been inactive for months prior to its cancellation.
In a statement provided to Forbes and other news media outlets, an Amazon spokesperson said that the entire lineup for Anime Strike and Heera—a curated channel specializing in Bollywood entertainment—has been transferred to Prime Video. "We have decided to move the curated catalogs of Anime Strike and Heera into Prime Video so that more customers can enjoy this content as part of their Prime membership," the statement read.
Anime Strike launched in the United States on January 12, 2017, and gained exclusive streaming rights for anime titles such as Kuzu no Honkai (Scum's Wish)
, Made in Abyss
, and Inuyashiki
. The service also offered older titles such as Akira
and Death Note
in its lineup.
Anime Strike's entrance into the North American anime market came following the 2016 announcement of a partnership between Crunchyroll and Funimation
to offer both their titles jointly. The service quickly garnered criticism because it was only available for customers with a subscription to Amazon Prime, which costs $99 annually, or Prime Video, which costs $8.99 per month.
Over the course of the service's lifetime, Amazon officials contended that Anime Strike was performing better than initially expected. In one interview from May 2017
, one spokesperson said, "Signups are higher than initial projections as we add more content and more features." Amazon has never shared subscription numbers for Anime Strike.
However, critics of Anime Strike argued that its subscription model created a double paywall which restricted access to new content from anime viewers. By moving Anime Strike's exclusive titles to the larger Prime Video offering, more Amazon customers will have access to its anime catalog.
In July, the Los Angeles Times reported
that smaller anime distributors have felt some uncertainty with the growing presence of big players like Amazon and Netflix. Viz Media
's vice president of animation Brian Ige was quoted by the Times in saying that with Netflix and Amazon looking to gain subscribers, content acquisition for has become "increasingly difficult."