A genre that managed to thrive both through the pandemic and the Hollywood strikes, adult animation has become a golden ticket to success for platforms. In the following report, Parrot Analytics analyzes the main trends in adult animation and its recent international success.
It’s no secret that adult animation was one of the few genres to thrive during the difficult backdrops of both the pandemic and the Hollywood labor strikes over the past four years.
Parrot Analytics has examined how significantly demand for this subgenre has grown with US consumers, and how much of that was driven by an increased volume of series.
US demand for adult animation -defined as animated programming catered towards adults and adolescents, and discounting anime- increased 151.6% between January 2020 and October 2023.
This compares favorably to other genres that saw demand increases since 2020. US demand for Crime series were up 47.5%, while documentaries saw a 98.0% increase over the same time period, for example.
Adult Animation Supply vs Demand
The demand growth for adult animation is significantly higher than the growth in supply for this genre, which increased 51.2% over the same time period.
In other words, the growth in US demand for adult animation was roughly three times higher than the growth in supply from January 2020 to October 2023. This highlights an increased appetite for what can be cost-effective programming at a time when production budgets are under more scrutiny industry wide.
Legacy titles such as South Park and Rick and Morty are consistently among the top 0.2% of series across all platforms in the US and worldwide, and new series like Netflix’s Blue Eyed Samurai, and Max’s Adventure Time: Fionna And Cake have launched to exceptional audience demand in recent months.
Indexed Demand for Adult Animation by Platform
Adult animation has become a key asset for all major players in the streaming business.
Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, with access to Adult Swim, has the highest total demand for adult animation compared to any of the other major platforms.
Disney’s Hulu, with next-day episodes of Fox’s Animation Domination, plus originals like Solar Opposites, comes in second place here.
Audience Demographics for Select Genres
Adult animation caters to a younger and more male leaning audience than the wider tent drama and comedy genres.
The global audience for adult animation is 58.4% male and 38.6% Gen Z, compared to 46.2% male and 24.8% Gen Z for dramas and 46.2% male and 27.3% Gen Z for comedies.
Affinity and Retention
Adult animation series have high affinity with one another, and Disney+ and Hulu are well-positioned to capture and retain this audience, based on a look at content affinity for two of the most popular series in the genre.
Looking at the top ten series South Park viewers turn to after watching it, six are adult animation shows, and nine of them are available on Hulu or Disney+.
Rick and Morty viewers follow a similar pattern, with six of the top ten series being adult animation, and all six are available on Hulu or Disney+.
High Value Content
Ultimately, this content helps drive retention, which lowers churn and can reduce the cost of customer acquisition.
As the streaming industry continues to run into the warm embrace of advertising, the ability to keep a subscriber engaged in a digital ecosystem for longer – with a long tail of in-demand programming that directly appeals to their tastes – is highly valuable.
Adult animation series are poised to become increasingly valuable to entertainment companies and IP owners over time.