Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. announced that it completed its acquisition of AT&T’s Crunchyroll anime business through Funimation Global Group today.
The deal, valued at $1.175 billion, was first announced in December 2020. Soon after the announcement, US Justice Department began reviewing the acquisition. The deal would potentially give Sony an unfair advantage over the anime distribution market and offer fewer options for Japanese studios, as well as the audience. However, 8 months later, the acquisition went through and Funimation now owns Crunchyroll.
It’s worth noting that Funimation and Crunchyroll already had a partnership in the past. Select Crunchyroll titles were streamed on Funimation, while vice versa. Additionally, Funimation was also distributing some of Crunchyroll’s home video titles. However, the partnership ended in 2018.
The acquisition raised concerns among the anime fans, who worry that Sony now has a monopoly. Anime licensing, especially for non-English speaking countries has always been spotty, even though the number of streaming services keeps rising. Crunchyroll currently covers most of Europe and North America, while Funimation has limited availability. In the US, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu all offer anime streaming, but Netflix is the only one that has a worldwide presence at the moment.
Recently, Funimation merged with AnimeLab, also owned by Sony. The AnimeLab website and social media pages are now Funimation ANZ. It’s unclear whether Crunchyroll will have a similar fate, but Funimation promises to bring “their worlds together”:
In addition to Funimation (and now Crunchyroll), Sony also owns Wakanim, a France-based anime streaming website. Wakanim has services in France, Germany Scandinavian countries (in English), as well as a service for Eastern-Europe countries, which is in Russian.
The company is an independently operated joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Japan’s Aniplex Inc. (a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment). Their streaming services offer over 700 anime titles available on 15 platforms and in 49 countries. Funimation’s theatrical division has distributed and marketed 6 of the top 20 anime films in the U.S.
Crunchyroll connects anime and manga fans across 200+ countries and territories while having over 5 million subscribers all over the world. In addition to the anime streaming service, the website also offers manga, as well as a shop.
Source: Press Release