Sony Acquires Anime Streaming Service Crunchyroll For A Hefty Sum

Crunchyroll and its 3 million subscribers will become part of Funimation.

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Sony has had its eye on anime streaming service Crunchyroll for some time, and was set to spend a whole load of cash to get the service. Now, it's official, and Crunchyroll is a Sony brand, acquired from WarnerMedia for the price of $1.175 billion.

Sony is no stranger to anime. The actual purchase of Crunchyroll went through Funimation Global Group, LLC, which the official press release for the sale describes as "a joint venture between Sony pictures Entertainment Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc's subsidiary, Aniplex." Funimation, founded in 1994, is one of the longest-standing names in anime in Western territories. Aniplex came together a year later, and has been producing anime and music, as well as publishing games, ever since.

"The Crunchyroll team has done an extraordinary job of not only growing the Crunchyroll brand but also building a passionate community of anime fans. Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans," said WarnerMedia's Chief Revenue Officer, Tony Goncalves, in an official statement.

"Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world," said Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra. "Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere. Funimation has been doing this for over 25 years and we look forward to continuing to leverage the power of creativity and technology to succeed in this rapidly growing segment of entertainment.”

Whether this is a win for anime fans, as Funimation says in its post remains to be seen. On the one hand, Sony and its subsidiary Funimation both have decades of experience with running successful anime businesses. AT&T owns WarnerMedia, which owned Crunchyroll before the sale. AT&T's recent decision to push WB's entire slate of films to HBO Max for 2021 has raised the ire of actors, directors, and movie theater corporations and highlighted the question of how well-suited a telecom company is to running entertainment brands.

On the other hand, Funimation is one of the biggest North American anime distributors, and their acquisition of Crunchyroll further concentrates their influence over North American access to anime. Funimation also has its own streaming service, and has not yet commented on what will happen to that service. It seems likely that the two libraries and userbases will be folded together, with Funimation either turning Crunchyroll into its streaming brand name or dropping the Crunchyroll name to make it all Funimation all the time.

As with any acquisition like this, the sale is pending regulatory approval, so the money has yet to change hands, but this is looking like a done deal. For some anime recommendations, check out our best anime of 2019 list, some must-watch romance anime, and 11 anime to look forward to in 2021.

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