It’s been rumored for some time that Sony was interested in purchasing Crunchyroll, but today it’s been confirmed that a deal is indeed happening. AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which owns Crunchyroll, has agreed to sell the streaming service to Funimation Global Group, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Group. How much is Crunchyroll’s vast category of anime worth? $1.175 billion in cash, according to a Sony press release:
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.
Crunchyroll began in the US in 2006, and currently serves over 3 million SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) subscribers, and over 90 million registered users through AVOD (ad-based video-on-demand). Beyond anime, Crunchyroll offers manga, mobile games, merchandise, events, and more across over 200 supported countries. Despite being relatively newer, its library is larger than Funimation’s.
Funimation has been around since 1994 and has exclusive rights to the Dragon Ball series, as well as offering other popular anime on its service. While both streaming services offer a largely different catalog, there is some crossover between the two like Bleach, Naruto, and others. Both are also available across a number of popular streaming devices, while Funimation has an exclusive deal with Hulu. In 2018 the rival streaming sites had a brief partnership to share some content between them, which brings us to today’s announcement that sees the two services fully uniting their teams and brands.
“Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans,” states WarnerMedia Chief Revenue Officer, Tony Goncalves. “By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people.”
It’s not yet clear how the acquisition will play out; if Sony will phase out the Crunchyroll name in favor of its own brand or if something entirely new will emerge from the unification. The deal is currently pending regulatory approval.