As of Monday, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) announced that it had completed its acquisition of Crunchyroll through Funimation Global Group, LLC. The $1.175 billion purchase was initially announced in December of last year. Crunchyroll is one of the largest anime-oriented VOD platforms with 5 million subscribers and 120 million registered users across 200 countries. For years Crunchyroll and Funimation have been two of the largest anime streaming platforms, competing to secure distribution rights. The two companies had previously held a content-sharing partnership, but this dissolved in 2018.
In response to the acquisition, Tony Vinciquerra, the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc, stated that “our goal is to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.” Similarly, Funimation posted a press release on its website that corroborated the intent to merge the two streaming platforms. The consolidation of these two companies will undoubtedly have a substantial impact on the world of anime licensing and streaming, giving Sony notable sway in this market.
AT&T sold Crunchyroll to Sony in an effort to reduce its debt amidst a transition towards refocusing on its telecommunication operations. Crunchyroll was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in San Francisco. Funimation was founded twenty-seven years ago in Silicon Valley and was acquired by Sony in 2017.
These large-scale acquisitions coincide with Netflix’s continued commitment towards funding anime production. However, despite the medium’s increasing worldwide popularity and these large influxes of cash, many Japanese creatives have complained about the anime industry’s taxing work conditions and low pay. In particular, Netflix recently drew ire for its bottom rate compensation for animation cuts.