Netflix Inc. will almost double its number of anime releases this year, stepping up its fight against AT&T Inc. and Sony Corp. for original content that appeals to Asian viewers.

The world’s largest paid-streaming service will launch 40 new anime titles this year, it said in a statement Saturday during a virtual animation expo from Japan — where half of Netflix’s 5 million subscribing households watch an average of five hours of the shows each month.

The move is part of a push for original content to appeal to audiences in Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing streaming markets, as its home market of North America reaches the point of saturation. Following the success of anime movie "Demon Slayer” — last year’s fourth highest-grossing film globally and Japan’s best-selling title ever — entertainment companies are increasingly vying for a slice of the $23 billion (¥2.5 trillion) industry.