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2nd Edition – March 2021

The “Great Adult Animation Boom” is in Full Swing

From mind-bending sci-fi comedies like The Midnight Gospel to dramatic, action-based mini-series like The Liberator, to comic book inspired shows like Harley Quinn, adult animation has entered a period of rapid growth and genre diversification. The streamers, broadcasters and cablers have caught on — there are over 100 new adult animated series on order. That’s a whopping 100% increase from a year ago. The upcoming series includes a whole new class of video game spinoffs, TV series reboots, and anime-inspired productions that will significantly expand the audience for adult animation. I am calling this phenomenon ‘The Great Adult Animation Boom.’

John Evershed

About the Author

John Evershed is the head of High Concentrate LLC, a company specializing in the research, packaging, development, sale of animated TV series and movies for adult audiences. Evershed is the founder and former CEO of Mondo Media, producer and distributor of animation for young adults where he launched and programmed a Mondo branded OTT channel on WarnerMedia’s VRV platform, and generated over 6 billion views on YouTube.

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What this report covers

This is the second edition of the Adult Animation White Paper, which covers 2020 and provides an outlook for 2021. The report focuses exclusively on adult animated TV series — mostly quarter, half and occasionally hour-long series. These shows are typically written and produced in English. This research is limited to shows that are currently airing as well as shows that are in development or production. It does not cover library material except where noted. This document does not cover animated movies for adults. (It’s a relatively short list.)

While the report does cover Japanese anime treatments of Western IP and Western animation produced in interpretations of anime styles, it does not cover anime more broadly. This white paper does not attempt to cover any children’s animation, which is both a distinct and considerably larger market. The buyers covered in this report are streaming platforms, networks, cable, and digital distributors. Many series share multiple production partners, making it difficult to attribute any one show to any one production company. Where possible, the report attempts to attribute all producing entities to each series.

Summary of the State of

The Adult Animation Industry

  • QUANTITY OF UPCOMING ADULT ANIMATED SERIES DOUBLES. Over the past year, the total number of upcoming adult animated TV series grew from 50 to 103.
  • ANIMATED COMEDY HAS UNOFFICIALLY REPLACED LIVE ACTION SITCOMS. Young adults prefer animated comedy over live action sitcoms.
  • REBOOTS AND SPINOFFs, from Good Times to Masters of the Universe, comprise a disproportionately large crop of upcoming adult animated reboots and spinoffs.
  • ANIME is in demand. Sony acquires Crunchyroll from WarnerMedia while Netflix and HBO Max continue to buy new anime at a rapid clip. The line between the Western and Japanese animation continues to blur.
  • SCI-FI COMEDY CROSSOVERS are over-represented in the current and upcoming crop of adult animated series.
  • THE STREAMERS, especially Netflix, are by far and away the most active buyers of adult animation, accounting for 50% of all new projects in development or production.
  • NETFLIX is the most aggressive buyer in the adult animation space with 22 new series on order.
  • VIDEO GAMES exploded on the scene with 15 new video game IP inspired series in production, up from 2 last year. Many of these adaptations will be produced as anime or in an anime style.
  • COMIC BOOKS are another fertile source of inspiration for adult animated series, although proportionately not as dominant a source of IP as it is for live-action adaptations.
  • FOX is the only major broadcast network actively airing adult animation. The channel continues to ramp up development and production of new series.
  • CABLER’S APPETITE FOR ADULT ANIMATION CONTINUES TO GROW. Most cable channels targeting 18-34s with scripted programming have ordered at least one adult animated series.
  • YOUNG ADULTS watch less traditional TV. In percentage terms, the amount of time 18-34-year-olds as a whole spent watching traditional TV in Q1 2020 dropped by about 15.3% from the previous year.
  • PACKAGING IS ESSENTIAL. Most buyers are looking for fully-formed packages with proven writers, artists and voice talent leaving fewer opportunities for quirky, off-beat series.
  • DIGITAL remains uncertain. Quibi’s quick rise and demise leaves only Facebook Watch and YouTube Premium as limited active digital buyers of adult animation.

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