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Nico Nico Douga (ニコニコ動画 Niko Niko Dōga, lit.), or Niconico, is a popular video sharing website in Japan managed by Niwango, a subsidiary of Dwango. Its nickname is "Niconico" or "Nico-dō", where "nikoniko" is the Japanese ideophone for smiling. As of April 18, 2012, Nico Nico Douga is the fourteenth 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, Nico Nico Douga'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. Nico Nico Douga 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 MADs (movie anime dōjinshi) 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: Nico Nico Douga 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 twenty-five 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 Nico Nico Douga 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 Nico Nico Douga. Consequently Nico Nico Douga was forced to shut down the service but two weeks later it commenced its service with its own video server. On May 7, 2007, the Nico Nico Douga 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, Nico Nico Douga 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 region. 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 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 allows users to share videos from YouTube, DailyMotion and Nico Nico Douga and view them in Nico Nico Douga's player, which includes the commenting system, as well as add English tags to them. Improvements later made to the site allow users to upload their own videos, with subscribed users able to host livestreams. The site also began streaming select anime titles from June 2011 onwards. 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 features into, was retired on November 19, 2012 and now redirects to the Japanese website.

Business aspects

The main income of Nico Nico Douga is divided into three parts: Premium-Membership (Pay-membership), Advertisement, and Nico Nico Ichiba (Affiliate).


Registration is needed to watch videos at Nico Nico Douga. There are two types of registered accounts, Free membership and Premium-membership. The Premium-membership fee is 525 yen (about US$6) 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.

Nico Nico Douga 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, 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.

Financial condition

In the fiscal year from Q4 2010 to Q3 2011, Nico Nico Douga 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. On March 11, 2008, Dwango announced that they would tighten up on the deletion of videos and monitoring uploaded videos. In the same way, on July 2, 2008, Dwango announced to three organizations that they would strengthen the deletion of anime and related content, including videos that use elements of copyrighted anime (known as MAD Movies). At the same time, Nico Nico Douga changed its system to expose which right holder deleted which video.