ADV Films has announced the creation of The Anime Network on digital cable, the first North American television channel dedicated exclusively to anime and anime-related content.  ICv2 has learned that planning for the new network is quite far along; it could bow early in 2003, though no details are currently available concerning the cable companies that will carry the new channel or the geographical areas that they will serve.


Also unknown at this time is whether the new network will become part of cable's 'basic package' or will require an additional fee from the subscribers.  ICv2 has learned that at least during the launch phase, The Anime Network will feature only anime series from ADV Films.  But given ADV's extensive catalog of titles, this is not much of a limitation at this time, particularly in view of the fact that ADV is seriously considering broadcasting new anime series such as RahXephon and Noir on The Anime Network even before these latest entries from Japan have appeared in the U.S. on DVD.  As for series currently available from ADV on video, a number of the best including Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gasaraki, Excel Saga, Daiguard, Getter Robo, and Gunsmith Cats are all likely candidates for early exposure.


Commenting on the new network, ADV Films CEO John Ledford stated: 'Until now, the market and the culture haven't been ready for it.  But ever-increasing numbers of Americans are becoming familiar with anime and its distinctive aesthetic: they're curious about anime, they're hungry for it, and The Anime Network is going to deliver it right to their televisions.' 


For retailers the launch of the new cable network could have major implications by exposing millions of viewers to anime fare that is more adult and more challenging than anything currently seen on Cartoon Network.  While The Anime Network is likely to be less mass market-oriented than Cartoon Network (and be on fewer systems, at least at first), it should have a strong appeal to older demographics and prove to be a real boon for serious anime fans, helping to create many more American otaku -- and it will certainly fuel the continuing growth of both anime and manga here in the U.S.