Sony’s acquisition of anime streaming service Crunchyroll has become the subject of an anti-trust review by the United States Department of Justice.
The media giant’s acquisition of Crunchyroll was announced late last year and cost the company over $1 billion USD. Funimation, another large anime streaming service in the west was already owned by Sony at the time.
The news about the anti-trust probe comes from news blog The Information notes that the probe “could delay the sale by several months and potentially kill it” depending on the findings of the Justice Department.
Sony’s response to the probe has allegedly been to extoll their competitors Netflix and HIDIVE as examples of how they wouldn’t be gaining any unfair market dominance. Sony has also asked that the Justice Department not distinguish anime from other animation marketed towards adults; this would make Disney+ a potential competitor as it would imply shows like The Simpsons would qualify as a direct competitor in the anime streaming market.
Companies are constantly competing for the growing anime market in the United States and other western nations, with Netflix dabbling in the production of anime and Sentai Filmworks launching their own service HIDIVE back in 2017. Even so, the acquisition of Crunchyroll would arguably put the two biggest streaming services in the west under Sony’s control.
The desire to purchase Crunchyroll and dominate the western anime market comes at a time where Sony’s Computer Entertainment division is reportedly losing their good will in the Japanese market after moving their headquarters to California from Japan. Our video partner Welfare Walrus goes into greater detail about Sony’s estrangement from their domestic market in a recent video which can be found below.
While Crunchyroll and Funimation do have a competitor in HIDIVE, it’s not a far stretch to say that they’re the most recognized names in western anime streaming.
As it stands now, it’ll be up to the Justice Department whether or not Sony will be able to finish their acquisition. Crunchyroll was sold by its owner AT&T Warner as part of an effort to clear its over 100 billion USD in debts.