Niconico (ニコニコ Nikoniko?, lit. "Smile"), formerly known as Nico Nico Douga (ニコニコ動画 Niko Niko Dōga?, lit. "Smiley Smiley Video") or "Nico-dō" for short, is a video sharing website in Japan managed by Dwango. "Niconico" or "nikoniko" is the Japanese ideophone for smiling. As of September 2015, Niconico is the eighth most visited website in Japan. The site won the Japanese Good Design Award in 2007, and an Honorary Mention of the Digital Communities category at Prix Ars Electronica 2008.
Users can upload, view and share video clips. Unlike other video sharing sites, however, comments are overlaid directly onto the video, synced to a specific playback time. This allows comments to respond directly to events occurring in the video, in sync with the viewer—creating a sense of a shared watching experience. Together with Hiroyuki Nishimura serving as director at Niwango until February 2013, Niconico's atmosphere and cultural context is close to 2channel's or Futaba Channel's, and many popular videos have otaku tastes, such as anime, computer games and pop music. Niconico offers tagging of videos. Tags may be edited by any user, not just the uploader. Each video may have up to ten tags, of which up to five may be optionally locked by the uploader, but all others may be edited by any user. Frequently these tags are used not only as categorization, but also as critical commentary, satire, or other humor related to the video's content. The site is also known for its MAD videos and its medleys of popular songs on the website, most notably Kumikyoku Nico Nico Douga. Certain original net animations have been distributed on the website, such as Candy Boy, Tentai Senshi Sunred and Penguin Musume Heart.
Other features include:
- High video quality: Niconico encourages users to pre-encode their videos in a format suitable for unmodified distribution. As of July 5, 2008, H.264 video and AAC audio is supported for both free and premium users.
- Mylist: Each user may create "mylists", which function
similarly to a list of bookmarks. All users can create up to 25 mylist folders, while a basic account can have 100 videos recorded and a premium (paid) account 500 videos per mylist, giving them a total of 12,500 mylist spots. Daily mylist activity is used to compute the default ranking view, although one may also sort by view or comment count. Mylists may be optionally made public and linked to; for example, to make a list of one's own works.
- Uploader comments: The uploader of a video may attach
permanent comments to the video. These are often used for such things as subtitles, lyrics, or corrections.
- Nicoscript: By using special commands in the uploader
comments, the uploader can add special effects to the video, including voting, automatic transfer to another video, quiz scoring, and other features.
The first version of Niconico used YouTube as a video source. However, as the site became more popular, so much traffic was transferred from YouTube that YouTube blocked access from Niconico. Consequently, Niconico was forced to shut down the service but two weeks later it commenced its service with its own video server. On May 7, 2007, a Niconico for mobile phone users was announced. Since August 9, 2007, "Nico Nico Douga (RC) Mobile" has serviced mobile phones of NTT DoCoMo and au.
As of October 31, 2011, Niconico has over 23,690,000 registered users, 6,870,000 mobile users and 1,390,000 premium users. Due to the limited server capacity, Niwango limits the amount of free users accessible to the website at peak times (7 p.m. to 2 a.m.), based on the time of registration. The website is written in Japanese and the majority of the site traffic is from Japan, although approximately four percent is from outside of Japan, notably one percent from Taiwan. A Taiwanese version of the site was launched on October 18, 2007. In July 2008, the website was localized to German and Spanish. The Taiwanese localization was significantly improved in the process. An English-language version was added on October 17, 2012, replacing the Niconico.com website, featuring a new player and translation tools allowing users to translate video descriptions into English or Chinese.
On April 27, 2012, Nico Nico Douga announced it would be renaming itself as Niconico, as well as introducing a new "Zero" version of the website which improves video resolution, along with various other upgrades.
In 2010, a version in English was in the works, and in April 2011, an English language beta website, Niconico, was launched. This site allowed users to share videos from YouTube, DailyMotion and Niconico and view them in Niconico's player, which includes the commenting system, as well as add English tags to them. Improvements later made to the site allowed users to upload their own videos, with subscribed users able to host livestreams. The site also simulcast select anime titles from June 2011. On October 14, 2011, Niconico announced a partnership with Funimation Entertainment to form Funico, to handle licensing of anime properties for streaming and home video. With the implementation of English language features into Nicovideo.jp, Niconico.com was retired on November 19, 2012 and now redirects to the Japanese website.
The main income of Niconico is divided into three parts: Premium-Membership (Pay-membership), Advertisement, and Nico Nico Ichiba (Affiliate).
Registration is needed to watch videos at Niconico. There are two types of registered accounts, Free membership and Premium-membership. The Premium-membership fee is 540 yen a month. As of January 2, 2012, they reached 1,500,000 premium members. They accept three forms of payment: credit cards, WebMoney vouchers and PayPal since February 2011.
Niconico uses Google Ads and other web advertisements. On May 8, 2008, Niwango announced partnership with Yahoo! Japan, and plans to adopt search-related ads and other Yahoo-related services.
- Nico Nico Ichiba (Affiliate)
Nico Nico Ichiba is a unique advertisement system in which users can place banners freely in each video page. Both video uploader and video viewer can choose items which they want to place, and can place and delete banners in the advertisement area. Users also can know how many times each banner has been clicked and how many items have been bought. Ranking info of numbers of items bought through Nico Nico Ichiba is also officially provided. Items available are from Amazon.co.jp, Yahoo Shopping, and Dwango mobile service.
Premium accounts and the affiliate system were, in the past, only available to Japanese users. Non-Japanese users can now apply for a premium membership on the Japanese site with international JCB cards, WebMoney vouchers only and PayPal, language barrier notwithstanding. Also, as of July 2010, Nico Nico Ichiba has been extended to the Taiwanese website.
In the fiscal year from Q4 2010 to Q3 2011, Niconico has had a gross income of approximately 10.81 billion yen (US$139.1 million as of November 10, 2011), and posts a 670 million yen (US$8.6 million) operating profit.
Combating copyright problems
On October 30, 2007, Niwango and the JASRAC, Japanese copyright holders' society agreed to form a comprehensive partnership and Niwango will pay two percent of its earnings to JASRAC as copyright royalties.