Sony Completes Acquisition of Crunchyroll

Sony has announced that they have completed their acquisition of anime streaming company Crunchyroll, which was previously owned by WarnerMedia and its parent company, AT&T.

Crunchyroll will now be owned and operated by Sony's Funimation Global Group, which also operates the Funimation anime streaming service. The sale essentially gives Sony control over two of the largest dedicated anime streaming services in the world. Crunchyroll announced on Aug. 3 that it had surpassed over 5 million paid subscribers and 120 million registered users total. The sale was first announced in December 2020, and AT&T followed that up with the announcement that it was spinning off WarnerMedia and many of its other entertainment assets and refocusing the company on AT&T's core services. According to Sony's press release, the Japanese tech giant paid AT&T over $1.1 billion USD for Crunchyroll.

“We are very excited to welcome Crunchyroll to the Sony Group,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, the chairman, president and CEO of the Sony Group Corporation. “Anime is a rapidly growing medium that enthralls and inspires emotion among audiences around the globe. The alignment of Crunchyroll and Funimation will enable us to get even closer to the creators and fans who are the heart of the anime community. We look forward to delivering even more outstanding entertainment that fills the world with emotion through anime.”

"Crunchyroll adds tremendous value to Sony’s existing anime businesses, including Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan,” said Tony Vinciquerra, Sony Pictures Entertainment's chairman and CEO. “With Crunchyroll and Funimation, we are committed to creating the ultimate anime experience for fans and presenting a unique opportunity for our key partners, publishers, and the immensely talented creators to continue to deliver their masterful content to audiences around the world. With the addition of Crunchyroll, we have an unprecedented opportunity to serve anime fans like never before and deliver the anime experience across any platform they choose, from theatrical, events, home entertainment, games, streaming, linear TV -- everywhere and every way fans want to experience their anime. Our goal is to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.”

While Sony says the deal "provides the opportunity for Crunchyroll and Funimation to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers," some anime fans and others within the anime and streaming industries are worried that the deal will give Sony an unprecedented amount of control over anime distribution and streaming in the West. It is also unclear how this deal affects Crunchyroll's partnerships with other anime companies, such as VIZ Media, or with companies that are direct competitors to Sony's products, such as Microsoft's Xbox division, which recently partnered with Crunchyroll to offer subscribers free access to the Xbox Game Pass service.

With the acquisition of Crunchyroll, Sony's Funimation Global Group's biggest competitor in anime streaming is now Netflix, which has recently begun investing more money in securing exclusive anime series, such as the next seasons of the Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Pokemon anime.

Source: Sony

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