The animation industry consists of more than 430 production companies with some of the major studios including Toei Animation, Gainax, Madhouse, Gonzo, Sunrise, Bones, TMS Entertainment, Nippon Animation, P.A.Works, Studio Pierrot and Studio Ghibli. Many of the studios are organized into a trade association, The Association of Japanese Animations. There is also a labor union for workers in the industry, the Japanese Animation Creators Association. Studios will often work together to produce more complex and costly projects, as done with Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. An anime episode can cost between US$100,000 and US$300,000 to produce. In 2001, animation accounted for 7% of the Japanese film market, above the 4.6% market share for live-action works. The popularity and success of anime is seen through the profitability of the DVD market, contributing nearly 70% of total sales. According to a 2016 article on Nikkei Asian Review, Japanese television stations have bought over 60 billion worth of anime from production companies "over the past few years", compared with under 20 billion from overseas. There has been a rise in sales of shows to television stations in Japan, caused by late night anime with adults as the target demographic. This type of anime is less popular outside Japan, being considered "more of a niche product". Spirited Away (2001) is the all-time highest-grossing film in Japan. It was also the highest-grossing anime film worldwide until it was overtaken by Makoto Shinkai's 2016 film Your Name. Anime films represent a large part of the highest-grossing Japanese films yearly in Japan, with 6 out of the top 10 in 2014, in 2015 and also in 2016.
Anime has to be licensed by companies in other countries in order to be legally released. While anime has been licensed by its Japanese owners for use outside Japan since at least the 1960s, the practice became well-established in the United States in the late 1970s to early 1980s, when such TV series as Gatchaman and Captain Harlock were licensed from their Japanese parent companies for distribution in the US market. The trend towards American distribution of anime continued into the 1980s with the licensing of titles such as Voltron and the 'creation' of new series such as Robotech through use of source material from several original series.
In the early 1990s, several companies began to experiment with the licensing of less children-oriented material. Some, such as A.D. Vision, and Central Park Media and its imprints, achieved fairly substantial commercial success and went on to become major players in the now very lucrative American anime market. Others, such as AnimEigo, achieved limited success. Many companies created directly by Japanese parent companies did not do as well, most releasing only one or two titles before completing their American operations.
Licenses are expensive, often hundreds of thousands of dollars for one series and tens of thousands for one movie. The prices vary widely; for example, Jinki: Extend cost only $91,000 to license while Kurau Phantom Memory cost $960,000. Simulcast Internet streaming rights can be less expensive, with prices around $1,000-$2,000 an episode, but can also be more expensive, with some series costing more than US$200,000 per episode.
The anime market for the United States was worth approximately $2.74 billion in 2009. Dubbed animation began airing in the United States in 2000 on networks like The WB and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. In 2005, this resulted in five of the top ten anime titles having previously aired on Cartoon Network. As a part of localization, some editing of cultural references may occur to better follow the references of the non-Japanese culture. The cost of English localization averages US $10,000 per episode.
The industry has been subject to both praise and condemnation for fansubs, the addition of unlicensed and unauthorized subtitled translations of anime series or films. Fansubs, which were originally distributed on VHS bootlegged cassettes in the 1980s, have been freely available and disseminated online since the 1990s. Since this practice raises concerns for copyright and piracy issues, fansubbers tend to adhere to an unwritten moral code to destroy or no longer distribute an anime once an official translated or subtitled version becomes licensed. They also try to encourage viewers to buy an official copy of the release once it comes out in English, although fansubs typically continue to circulate through file sharing networks. Even so, the laid back regulations of the Japanese animation industry tends to overlook these issues, allowing it to grow underground and thus increasing the popularity until there is a demand for official high quality releases for animation companies. This has led to an increase in global popularity with Japanese animations, reaching $40 million in sales in 2004.
Legal international availability of anime on the Internet has changed in recent years, with simulcasts of series available on websites like Crunchyroll.