Viz Media has announced they are transitioning their subscription-based anime streaming service Neon Alley, which debuts Naruto Shippuden and a host of other series in English in North America, to a free service April 1, 2014! Although that sounds exciting at a first glance, based on the FAQ official press release and FAQ, below, it seems like some content will be free while others will be a part of Hulu Plus (a paid service). It’s unclear what shows will go where, but Viz will reveal more details as the April 1st date nears. Neon Alley will also stop their scheduled programming and make everything on-demand and add in Viz’s library of Japanese audio/English subtitled episodes to the service. That’s not all, Viz Media is expanding their Neon Alley service to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, among other devices. Take a look at the official press release and FAQ below.
San Francisco, CA, February 11, 2014 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, announces a significant milestone in the evolution of Neon Alley as the company moves to consolidate all of its digital streaming anime content offerings under its Neon Alley brand.
Effective April 1st, VIZ Media will transition its weekly episodic anime programming to the successful free ad-supported Hulu and subscription-based Hulu Plus Video-On-Demand services. The move also expands VIZ Media’s role as a content partner for one of the U.S.’s biggest video streaming providers.
U.S. fans will be able to catch a wide variety of brand new anime, as well as classic content distributed and/or licensed by VIZ Media, for FREE at www.NeonAlley.com. The site will also become the new home for all FREE streaming anime content previously available on VIZAnime.com, including first-run simulcasts for hit series such as NARUTO SHIPPUDEN. Titles will be presented with easy-to-use selections for dubbed and/or subbed content (when available).
Neon Alley will reach an expansive on-demand audience on the free, ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service, which enables viewers to watch shows anytime, anywhere across devices, including PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Roku, Chromecast, and a multitude of additional mobile devices that already support the app. Additional details on Hulu Plus enabled devices can be found here. VIZ Media will continue to make programming decisions for Neon Alley, and will release additional news on Neon Alley availability for Canadian users in the near future.
“Neon Alley’s mission has always been to offer an innovative way for domestic fans to access and enjoy dubbed high-quality anime content legally, and as a content partner for Hulu and Hulu Plus, the Neon Alley brand makes a big stride to fulfill this objective and expand our audience substantially across the most widely used digital platforms and devices,” says Brian Ige, Vice President, Animation. “Viewers will have more free ways than ever to access and watch their favorite shows, and we look forward to fans joining us for a new era of anime enjoyment!”
Additional information on Neon Alley is available at: www.NeonAlley.com.
Will Neon Alley REALLY be free?
YES! There will no longer be a membership required to watch Neon Alley! Starting April 1, 2014, all of Neon Alley’s content will be made available free to anyone in the United States by simply going to NeonAlley.com. (An announcement will be forthcoming about how Canadian fans will be able to access the content).
Will NeonAlley.com be the ONLY way to watch now? What about gaming consoles?
Actually, now you will be able to access Neon Alley content not only on the PS3 and XBOX 360 gaming consoles, but on PS4, XBOX One, Wii, Roku, Chromecast, and a number of mobile phones and tablets by using the Hulu Plus App! Starting April 1, anyone in the U.S. who comes to NeonAlley.com to sign up for their free Hulu Plus trial will get 2 free weeks instead of the standard 7 day Hulu Plus trial! (See “So now I can watch Neon Alley on more than just my PS3, XBOX 360 and computer?” below for more details.)
What about Canada?
For our members & fans in Canada, we soon will have an announcement as to how you too will be able to access all of the great Neon Alley content for free!
Can I still sign up and watch the streaming service until it ends?
Current members who are in the middle of their membership (recurring or pre-paid) will be able to continue accessing Neon Alley through the site and the current aps as long as they remain a member through 3/31. No new membership sign ups will be taken as of 2/11/14.
If it’s going to be free and I am a current member, how do I make sure my credit card will not be charged?
No credit cards for recurring billing will be charged after 2/28/14. At that time, the entire Neon Alley billing process will be turned off. Therefore, the last time you will be charged will be in the month of February. However, no matter when your card is charged, you will still receive access through 3/31. For example, if your billing date is 2/1/14, your charge on 2/1 will be your final charge, but you will receive access through 3/31. If your billing date is 2/28/14, your charge on 2/28 will be your final charge and you will receive access through 3/31.
Will there still be a live stream?
No. While we have enjoyed bringing our members the live linear stream, under the new version of Neon Alley, all of the content will be available on demand, with no tv-style linear stream. However, our on-demand offerings will be significantly larger than what was available with the linear stream + “Catch Up.”
What is this about subs being available too?
The new NeonAlley.com will now be the home for all VIZ Media digital on-demand content including subtitled and simulcast content that has been available at VIZanime.com up until now. This includes the simulcast subtitled episodes of Naruto Shippuden every week.
Will there be access to more episodes on demand now?
The number of episodes available will vary series by series, but overall, after the initial roll-out, YES, much more content will be available on demand. For subtitled content, like with VIZanime.com, once an episode is released, it will remain on demand. For dubbed content, exact details series-by-series will be available at NeonAlley.com on April 1st. But unlike the 4 episode max for “Catch Up”, there will be times when an entire season is available at once – though the window for how long that entire season is available may vary. Overall though, there will be much more dubbed content available at any given time.
If I redeemed a gift card that gave me access to Neon Alley beyond March 31, 2014, will I receive a refund?
YES, absolutely. During the month of February 2014, refunds will be issued for the portion of any gift memberships which would not have been used up by March 31, 2014.
So now I can watch Neon Alley on more than just my PS3, XBOX 360 and computer?
YES! Starting April 1, 2014, a membership to Hulu Plus will enable you to watch all of the Neon Alley content anywhere the Hulu Plus app is available including PS4, XBOX One, Wii, Roku, Chromecast, and on many iOS and Android devices! While NeonAlley.com will remain your central hub for all things Neon Alley, including access to all of the videos, Hulu Plus will allow you to watch from virtually anywhere. For a complete list of platforms currently supporting Hulu Plus please visit http://www.hulu.com/plus/devices. Once inside the Hulu Plus app, just search for your favorite Neon Alley series! Starting April 1, anyone in the U.S. who comes to NeonAlley.com to sign up for their free Hulu Plus trial will get 2 free weeks instead of the standard 7 day Hulu Plus trial!
What is this about current paid Neon Alley members getting an *extra* extended free Hulu Plus trial?
So that our current paying members can try out the new version of Neon Alley across all of the different platforms, we will be sending all of them details on how they can receive 2 FREE MONTHS of Hulu Plus. The information will be sent to currently paying members prior to April 1, 2014.
What if I already have a Hulu Plus subscription?
Then you are good to go come April 1! On that day, just head to NeonAlley.com if you want to watch shows on your computer, or use your Hulu Plus app and head to the Neon Alley channel launching that day to access the content wherever you’re already using Hulu Plus.
What about the cool short form content like convention coverage, and interviews? Will I still be able to see that somewhere?
YES! As part of the new version of Neon Alley, there will be more than our regular episodes of series available. New short video series and news updates will be part of the new Neon Alley experience. You can expect the first of these to launch before Summer.
Will there still be new world premiere dubs?
YES! NeonAlley.com will still be the place for weekly WORLD PREMIERE episodes of Naruto Shippuden – the difference is that now you will get them absolutely free! Plus, we will continue to bring new dub series to Neon Alley throughout the year. The best way to stay up on what new is coming and when will be through the Neon Alley email newsletter. If you are not already receiving the newsletter, you will be able to sign up to receive it when the new version of the site launches on April 1, 2014.
What will happen to my NeonAlley.com account? Do I need a different account to watch the free videos after April 1st?
You will be able to watch all of the content on NeonAlley.com without logging in to an account. However, if you want to leave comments on episodes or interact in other ways, you will have to log in. Your current NeonAlley.com and/or VIZanime.com username and password will work on the new and free NeonAlley.com. (However, to access content via the Hulu Plus app to watch across other devices, you will need a separate Hulu Plus account.)
Will members and fans have as much input as they have had in the past via Twitter and Facebook?
ABSOLUTELY! We love the way we get to interact with the Neon Alley Nation and THAT will not change. In fact, we hope to see the Nation continue to grow now that access to the content will be free! So plan on interacting with us via social media daily still as we talk about our programming, cool anime releases, conventions, otaku life and more! Plus, we’ll still be coming at you with TRIVIA contests, sweepstakes and more. Stay tuned for all those details.
Who will we contact for any issues?
Issues related to NeonAlley.com or questions about the transition to the free platform that were not covered in the FAQ should still be directed to [email protected] or NeonAlley.com/support. After April 1, Hulu Plus users should direct questions related to the functionality or support of the Hulu Plus app to http://www.hulu.com/support/support_form.
Thanks Jin Kazama for the heads up!