Friday, September 16, 2011

Download counts, popularity, and success

Over the last year, I have gotten to know quite a few fansubbers.  When they talk to me, one of the topics usually discussed is the number of BitTorrent downloads this group gets per release.  One of the things they talk about is that on the whole, this group gets considerably less downloads per episode than just about every other active fansubbing group.

Before I give my response to this, I would like to explain a few things.  In this age where fansubbed anime is now distributed by multiple methods other than BitTorrent, BitTorrent downloads are lower than they were several years ago.  However, as a metric for the success of a release, the number of BitTorrent downloads remains one of the very few valid indicators available to a fansubbing group, as most DDL sites will not release download numbers for a file.  It is generally accepted by the modern fansubbing community that the more downloads of a file, the more successful the release is.

So, to illustrate this point, I will present several exhibits.  Here is exhibit 1:

Here, I have a screenshot of how the torrent listing page on NyaaTorrent looks like a few days after we released Pollyanna episode 36 and Little Women II episode 9 a couple of weeks ago.  Let me point out a few things:
  •  Notice that we're racking up about 400-500 downloads for all three versions that we release for each episode.  Now compare that to the files that HorribleSubs releases, which number in the several thousands. 
  • Also, notice the two releases of Fairy Tail.  You can notice that the slower group gets less downloads.  Even then, typically a series that is a Shonen Jump series will usually have more viewers due to the larger fanbase.
  • The ARR release there is actually an anomaly from what they normally get.  ARR's download counts are usually higher than our download counts.
Now, I will present exhibit 2:

In this one, we have the listings around when Pollyanna episode 35 is released.  Let me point out a few things:
  • EveTaku's release of Kami-sama no Memochou episode 8 obviously had a lot of downloaders.
  • Compared to the Fairy Tail episode 94 download counts from exhibit 1, you can see HorribleSubs' release blow that one out of the water.
  • If we typically have download counts higher than those of a modern series, it's usually due to the fact that the group was slower in releasing the series.
Let me now continue with exhibit 3.

In this case, we are comparing the one modern series we're doing, Happy Kappi, versus everything else that was released at this time.  Again, note the lower download counts compared to everything else.

So, according to these exhibits and the "number of BitTorrent downloads" metric, this group would have been considered a failure by most modern fansubbers.  Furthermore, this is one of the bigger reasons why most modern fansubbing groups won't touch the series we work on, as the metrics bear out the potential failure of each release. 

However, this entire analysis suffers from a very significant flaw.

The flaw is that this comparison is not an apples to apples comparison.  Fundamentally, Licca Fansubs is a completely different type of fansubbing group than your typical modern fansubbing group.  The way we conduct our operations is completely different, and the rules which we abide by are also different.  In essence, we measure our success through other means and metrics.  People can argue that we are just deluding ourselves and living in our own little world, and in a sense they are correct.  We do live in our little world, and that is perfectly fine with us.

In essence, this is one of the best examples of how the Pollyanna principle should be applied.  In our world, we feel that we've been really successful.  We've gotten three large series done, two of which are World Masterpiece Theater series.  We got a couple of lovely OVAs done as well.  We've got plenty of momentum to do a few more series after we finish our current projects.  With luck, we'll be around for quite a while, with everyone's support.


  1. You are a different type of fansub group. It's natural that series which are currently in the spotlight will get more downloads. It's the same reason why with books, shiny new best-sellers do better than old classics. But the old classics are the ones remembered more and eventually more people will read them. Also, don't forget that a lot of your fans prefer to wait for a series to be complete before they watch it. After all, they have waited many years and don't really have to keep up with the discussions and fandom like with and ongoing series, so they can wait a few months. That's what I did with Sara and Les Miserables.

  2. WMT series were very popular when they were broadcast on TV in most countries. Some are still popular today, like Princess Sara in the Phillipines. Not all of course, some more, some less. Though they could not compete with Dragon Ball in popularity, except maybe Heidi.

    It is just that they belong to another era, when there were quality animated TV series, prior to the digital revolution. this gives the series a classic vibe.

    Certainly there is a considerable amount of people past their 20s-30s who are interested in those series.

  3. For me you are the BEST!!!
    I'm encountring your group name around many fan subbing forums, and they all mention how great you are, really really fast and superb quality also!
    Thank you :-)

  4. Well, I'm under 30 and do enjoy the WMTs you've released, the constant information and up to date posts, of the process, future plans, current releases, status etc.

    True, I also downloaded the popular GoSick and No. 6, but nevertheless, this fansub has a special place. This is THE site which I visit several times a day in search for updates and releases! Sarah was my fav, now Pollyanna ;)

    Congratulation to the team, here we feel like a family!

  5. No one wants to touch older series cause lotsa anime fans like the new stuff and hate the art style for one thing, and I think it's a big reason. but I think fansubbing these older series is great since we get history of anime too. Some fansubbers need to stop worrying about their success and listen to people (Some shows have multiple fansubbers... geez, go fansub something else...)

    Its good thing you as fansubbers is different, there aren't many interesting fansub groups. But it is great they are around to do truly good classics, or obscure... whatever. keep doing what you're doing.

  6. by the way I am under 20 and ever since I was little I love older animes (70s, especially 80s, and 90s) than new ones so it's so good to have people bring more older series!!!

  7. Who says everyone has to be the same anyways. There is definitely a niche audience for these older anime series. Some, like myself, will be older fans who remembered them from years ago (I watched Heidi when it first came out), while others may be discovering them for the first time. My daughter finds them a bit slow for her taste, as will others who prefer more modern anime. About the only older series she likes is Sailor Moon, as that is one she grew up with. For myself, I've been very glad to find these series are being subbed, and am looking eagerly forward to more.

  8. I think that comparing the classic WMT series with newer anime is like comparing apples and oranges. I am an "older" anime fan, but I enjoy both!

    Some of the newer anime series stand out for their amazing animation and quality storylines, while others seem very shallow, trite, and fail to hold my interest. Then you have Miyazaki's films, which are true works of art.

    Still, the "classics" are extremely enjoyable and remain among my favorites, even though the quality of the animation does not compare with what is being made nowadays.

    I really hope that Licca fansubs sticks around for a long, long time. The only criticism I would extend (and please understand that you are still fansubbing Gods to me, regardless) is that your scripts could use the skills of a proper editor.

  9. What everyone brought up so far makes a lot of sense, and it puts quite a few things that I've noticed under a different perspective.

    Everyone here has talked about nostalgia in some way, shape, or form. That seems to be the one thing that binds everyone together. It is a good thing, and it was something that I haven't really considered either.

    Believe it or not, for me personally, the first exposure to a WMT series for me was A Little Princess Sara. After some of my friends found out that I was running a group that was fansubbing it, they were gushing with how they loved the story. It's for people like them and you all that my staff and I are able to pour our hearts into doing this.

    When I talk about support, this is what I'm talking about. Yes, this is a niche fansubbing group, but the people supporting us are some of the most wonderful folks out there.

    DeX, your concerns about our editing are valid. We've been trying to address that by attempting to recruit additional editors.

  10. Thanks Licca to keep the flag of old school anime alive and well! I love your fansub group and can wait to see what WMT wonders you'll bring us next!

  11. Let them say what they want, it's not as though they are wrong from there point of view, as long as we feel good about doing these series and as long as we have fans who love these older series, that's what matter most, can't wait to see what you guys doing after completing the current series.

  12. Licca Fansubs is a kind of group that, I believe, does not care about that kind of "popularity" that much. Subbing World Masterpiece Theater Animes is like presenting an old recipe that can still be enjoyed by modern people. Yes, it's old and many people not interested in it anymore. BUT yes, a lot of people are looking for these gems as well, and for a fansub group who pick these series, and even gave us brilliant updates, superb quality video, fast release and all that bonus, I can say that you are one of the best fansub groups that existed. I am an otaku fan for 15 years already, and I have never checked a fansub website as often as Licca Fansubs :)Kudos to all of you from the bottom of my otaku heart :P

  13. I really like the group but i admit is that i rather watch anime once it completed for older anime. I believe many of old school fans are just like myself want the full episodes.