What Crunchyroll can teach the rest of us

Earlier today Crunchyroll annnounced that it now has 100,000 payed subscribers to its service. For those of you unfamiliar with the service Crunchyroll provides high quality (up to 1080p for premium members) anime.  This announcement is part of a growing trend that has implications far beyond the otaku community.

A little over a year ago Arstechnica published an article on the growing fansub community. In the article Nate Anderson asked a few admitted anime pirates why they pirate anime (including several shows that were available on Hulu at time time).  The main reasons given were speed and content.  Downloading fansubs allowed users to obtain new episodes quickly and easily and consume that content on the device of their choosing. "Otaku2" (one of the pirates interviewed for the article) stated that

...fan-created subtitles (fansubs) appear much more quickly than the officially subtitled English versions. "In some cases," he said, fansubbers "can get stuff out the next day after it airs, whereas I might have to wait months to get it legally."

A year later Crunchyroll fills that void by simulcasting many popular animes one hour after they air in Japan.

The success of Crunchyroll along with Spotify's 4 million paid subscribers proves that the answer to piracy is not another lawsuit. The most effective way to combat piracy is to build services that offer a wide variety of content for a reasonable price. 

Piracy is not the result of an unwillingness to pay for content, it's the failure of an industry to adopt to the needs of its consumers.