By Michael Fontanini / October 30th, 2020
Based in San Francisco, Crunchyroll was founded in 2006, and was later acquired in 2018 by the telecommunications giant, AT&T. However, things may be about to change. After recently obtaining the exclusive right to negotiate for it, Sony has now entered into final negotiations in their push to acquire Crunchyroll, the United States anime-streaming service. Sony may end up spending more than 100 million yen (or $957 million U.S. dollars) for it. For the fiscal year ending in March, Sony is projected to reach $4.79 billion in total operating income.
If they succeed in this acquisition, Sony will be thrust into global competition with other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Netflix have themselves been forging alliances with animation studios, while Disney created their own streaming service. This would also give them Crunchyroll’s 70 million strong audience, which includes 3 million paying subscribers spread across more than 200 countries/regions, such as the U.S. and Europe. They would also gain over 1,000 titles from this deal.
Sony has some popular anime of its own, such as Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba), that it has been licensing to other streaming services. The studio behind this anime, Aniplex, is also owned by Sony, and has created a number of movies and music as well. Sony also acquired the anime distributor, Funimation, in 2017. This netted them its 1 million paying members, most of whom are in the United States. However, this was not as successful as they might have hoped, since they ran into some obstacles with regards to expanding said user base.
The Association of Japanese Animations says the global anime market in 2018 had a worth of about $21 billion, a 50% increase over what it was in 2013. Half of its demand comes from the overseas market. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic has increased demand due to people seeking more at-home entertainment options. Add all of this up, and you can see why Sony wants a bigger piece of the proverbial pie. Needless to say, this will have important implications for the anime industry if Sony does acquire Crunchyroll.
AniplexAT&TCrunchyrollDemon SlayerFunimationKimetsu no YaibaSony