I did this a year ago, and again two years ago with the changing landscape of anime streaming services. Since the time I wrote this blog a year ago, things have greatly changed once again, and while it was for the worse last year, this year it's mostly for the better. I already explained the importance of exclusive rights twice, so I'll get straight to the blog here as if you want to read about it, you can.

Once again, things have changed since I last wrote this blog a year ago. While some things stayed the same, other things changed greatly. Crunchyroll and Funimation are still running business like usual, all while Sentai made some pretty drastic changes, and Amazon is now operating like everybody else around the world. So as a summary of changes from a year ago, here is what has happened since:
  • Amazon has dropped Anime Strike. Now, only a Prime subscription is needed in order to watch simulcasts there.
  • Sentai now has their own new and improved anime streaming service, HIDIVE. All of their shows moving forward will be simulcasted there.
  • Daisuki has been shut down.
  • Netflix and Amazon have increased their subscription prices.
  • Go90 is exclusively streaming some of Aniplex's dubs there. It's a free service.

So with this, I am going to break down all of the streaming services and get an estimate of how much it would cost you to give everybody an idea of how much our wallets are bleeding with the emergence of new companies entering the exclusive anime streaming business, as well as the constantly changing landscape. Seeing that America has it all that I'm speaking from an American perspective as most of us here are from the USA. It used to be that many of these places were just another place to watch anime. But now, these places are daring us to subscribe or miss out on watching those shows. So in estimating these costs, I'm rounding everything up to the next dollar amount for the sake of simplicity and the final cost will be a few pennies off. Also, I'm only going through paid services as Tubi TV and go90 are both free services where anime can be watched completely free.

Anime-Specific

Crunchyroll
Location: San Francisco, CA
Subscriber Plans: Premium ($7/month, $60/year), Premium+ ($12/month, $100/year)
Cost Per Month: $5 (P, annual), $7 (P, monthly), $8.33 (P+, annual), $12 (P+, monthly)
Exclusive Titles: Too many to list (many shared with Funimation carrying the subbed version)
This is the place that started it all and is the biggest contributor in helping the anime industry thrive when it was in big trouble. It came up with the business model that has worked for this industry by having a subscription system for the best experience while those without have a way of watching most of the stuff for free by waiting a week, watching ads, and settle for watching it in lower quality. It used to be that stuff was either on Crunchyroll or Funimation and only a show or two is exclusively in another place, but the landscape is so much different today. Now, Crunchyroll streams whatever stuff Funimation has licensed, as well as all the shows with limited marketability and obscure stuff that other licensors would not bother touching. In any case, just about everybody who regularly watches anime will have a Crunchyroll subscription and the premium one is really only for those who regularly shop at their store.

Funimation
Location: Dallas, TX (Flower Mound)
Subscriber Plans: Monthly ($6/month), Annual ($60/year)
Cost Per Month: $6 (Monthly), $5 (Annual)
Exclusive Titles: Tokyo Ghoul, Tales of Zestiria the X, Dubs of all their licenses shared with Crunchyroll
Funimation has gone through a lot of changes over the past four years when their subscription service started. They had a buggy player that that led to them giving the website a complete makeover, and once it ran smoothly they replicated Crunchyroll's policy starting in 2014. Then they offered sub-only subscriptions for those who didn't care about dubs, and they began the simuldub initiative to do dubbing as shows come out rather than wait for the BDs to come out. Then came the partnership with Crunchyroll that began with the Fall 2016 season where all subtitled content went to Crunchyroll and all dubs went to Funimation to mark a new era for this service. Pretty much, this means that a subscription is only good for watching dubs as everything airs the same day as in Japan on Crunchyroll, while there's a waiting period since Funimation will have to receive the source material before they can begin dubbing. Funimation also uses Hulu for their shows as they are a company that doesn't care about exclusive rights as they only want exposure. While shows on Funimation are also on Crunchyroll in subbed version, that's not true for all titles as those two are currently working to get all of Funi's catalog titles there, and Tokyo Ghoul and Tales of Zestiria the X are the only shows not simulcasted on Crunchyroll since the partnership as they are sequels to shows that predated the partnership, and the language of the deal prohibits them from seeking an external partner (during the time the first season was licensed) to stream it.

HIDIVE
Location: Houston, TX
Subscriber Plans: Monthly ($5/month), Annual ($48/year)
Cost Per Month: $5 (Monthly), $4 (Annual)
Exclusive Titles: All new Sentai simulcasts and licenses from Winter 2018 season onward
HIDIVE was launched in June 2017 as Sentai's new video streaming service to replace the buggy and poorly-maintained Anime Network Online service. Sentai used to give just about everything to Crunchyroll, with the occasional title or two exclusively on ANO or Hulu as they were trying to find out if these exclusive deals were viable or not. And then came Spring 2017 when Sentai completely abandoned Crunchyroll with BanG Dream! being the last Sentai license there, and they found an opportunity with Amazon where they would get a huge payday in exchange for Anime Strike having sole possession of these shows during the simulcast period in America. But some titles were not part of that partnership, and they would be exclusively on HIDIVE. Now with Anime Strike being no more, their titles are all going on HIDIVE, and with the money saved not needing an Anime Strike subscription on top of a Prime subscription, that helped go a long way for Sentai to get subscribers to HIDIVE. They had an introductory price, but now you can get it for that price by buying an annual membership, and for those who subscribed before the cutoff date of May 1, they paid it monthly and it is guaranteed until the spring of 2020.

Not Anime-Specific

Amazon
Location: Seattle, WA
Subscriber Plans: Prime ($119/year, $13/month), Prime Video Only ($9/month)
Cost Per Month: $10 (annual), $13 (Monthly), $9 (Prime Video Only)
Exclusive Titles: All Noitamina Shows from Spring 2016 onward, All Animeism shows from Summer 2017 onward, Onihei, Re:Creators, Chii's Adventure, Nanoha series (except Vivid), Ronja, Welcome to the Ballroom, Kokkoku, Vinland Saga
This is the service that has seen the biggest change since a year ago as the much-criticized Anime Strike service has shut down as it was just a poorly thought-out idea from a number of angles starting with the fact that it's a double paywall, and that the rest of the world just needs a Prime subscription to watch these exclusives. Amazon was cutting back on the underperforming channels, and Anime Strike was one of them. Now that Anime Strike is no more, the only exclusives on Amazon are what's exclusive to them worldwide, which are the Noitamina shows, the Animeism shows, and a handful of other stuff like Kokkoku and Vinland Saga.

Netflix
Location: San Francisco, CA (Los Gatos)
Subscriber Plans: SD Only ($8/month), HD ($11/month), Ultra HD ($14/month)
Cost Per Month: See above
Exclusive Titles: Knights of Sidonia, Seven Deadly Sins, Ajin, Kuromukuro, Adventure of Sinbad, Perfect Bones, Little Witch Academia, ID-0, Fate/Apochrypha, Violet Evergarden, Children of the Whales, Kakegurui, Devilman Crybaby, B: the Beginning, A.I.C.O. Incarnation, Sword Gai, Unit Pandora, Piano Forest, Lost Song, Hisone and Masotan
Netflix had its eye on anime for quite a long time now, and they started getting into the exclusive business back in 2014. Since then, they have increased their Originals catalog by leaps and bounds, and they are poised to add 30 or so shows in 2018. They are even getting shows that aren't even going to be on TV like B: The Beginning and Devilman Crybaby. In any case, subscribing to Netflix is a must, but not on a recurring monthly bases as they still refuse to do simulcasts even though this is a great opportunity to increase their profit margin by getting anime watchers something to stay continuously subscribed to. With their current business model, it only makes sense to subscribe only one month for every three. Netflix had the opportunity to venture out into the simulcast waters with Violet Evergarden as it was all dubbed and ready to go for the rest of the world, but for the US they continued to stand by their outdated binge-only philosophy and shut them out until the day the finale went live. There's just no reasonable excuse to justify that move. In any case, Netflix has really grown their catalog and has overtaken Amazon as Crunchyroll's biggest competitor among services not specific to anime.

Hulu/Yahoo View
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Subscriber Plans: Limited Ads ($8/month), No Ads ($12/month), Live TV+Limited Ads ($40/month)
Cost Per Month: See above
Exclusive Titles: Most Viz shows (no subscription required), dubs to some Aniplex titles
Hulu is much different today as its free service has migrated over to Yahoo View, while Hulu became a subscription-only service. It still operates like it has in the past, except that now the free stuff is in a different location. That said, Hulu's presence in anime has significantly decreased that started with the purge back in the Spring 2016 season with a lot of anime shows leaving, and only a few shows coming. Sentai used to use Hulu for almost all of their shows that are not on Crunchyroll, while Funimation used Hulu as an alternative way to watch most of their simulcasts on the same day without a Funimation subscription. Viz still uses Hulu for their stuff where no subscription is required for same-day viewing, but now their shows are starting to appear in other places in addition to Hulu. And Funimation is also putting simuldubs to selected titles on Hulu as well. The rates are the same as last year, but this year they added a Live TV service, which is not useful as far as simulcasts are concerned.

So now that I have broken down the services, I will calculate the total cost of being able to watch everything assuming that all services have at least one show that's exclusive to them on a monthly basis. On the low end, here is what you can expect to pay:

Crunchyroll: $5 (annual Premium)
Funimation: No subscription
HIDIVE: $4 (Annual)
Amazon: $9 (Video only, monthly)
Netflix: $2.67 (SD, cost is for one month seeing that they don't do weekly simulcasts)
Hulu: No subscription
Total: $20.67

On the high end if you find yourself subscribing to all services with the most expensive plans:

Crunchyroll: $12 (monthly Premium+)
Funimation: $6 (monthly)
HIDIVE: $5 (monthly)
Netflix: $3.67 (HD, cost is for one month seeing that they don't do weekly simulcasts, and anime isn't available in Ultra HD yet)
Anime Strike: $13 (Prime, monthly)
Hulu: $12 (No Ads)
Total: $51.67

Now, on the optimal end. You absolutely want an annual Crunchyroll membership, and seeing that I'm talking about just watching anime that the annual Premium is what to go with. Funimation has only dubs that appear weeks later, so ideally you won't need it, however with Tokyo Ghoul not coming to Crunchyroll that you might be inclined to get it. A HIDIVE membership is pretty much a must now that Sentai is putting all of their stuff there. Netflix, one month with HD video is ideal since they still refuse to do simulcasts. And with Hulu, no need to subscribe to that for simulcasts. So with that, here's how much it will cost you to watch anime per month on the optimal end.

Crunchyroll: $5 (annual Premium)
Funimation: No subscription
HIDIVE: $4 (annual)
Anime Strike: $10 (Prime, annual)
Netflix: $3.67 (HD, cost is for one month seeing that they don't do weekly simulcasts)
Hulu: No subscription
Total: $22.67

So the ideal route for this year comes out to be $22.67 a month, down from $28.58. The savings come from the end of Anime Strike making it a single paywall once again, as well as HIDIVE subscriptions being cheaper than that of The Anime Network. That gets counteracted a bit by the price increase for Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions. If you are interested in watching Tokyo Ghoul:re, that will run you up to $27.67 a month, but if not, then your wallet will get a breather from not needing that.