Sony and its subsidiary Funimation have acquired anime streaming platform Crunchyroll for an estimated $1.175 billion USD.
As previously reported, Sony was in talks with AT&T to acquire the anime streaming service Crunchyroll in a deal that could cost more than $900 million USD. Now, Polygon reports that on December 9th, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced they had acquired Crunchyroll.
AT&T and WarnerMedia agreed to sell the platform to Funimation, which Sony acquired in 2017 after acquiring the majority of its shares. The deal has reportedly been estimated by Sony to be $1.175 billion USD.
WarnerMedia’s CRO Tony Gonclaves issued a statement, offering high praise to Crunchyroll.
“The Crunchyroll team has done an extraordinary job of not only growing the Crunchyroll brand but also building a passionate community of anime fans. Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans.
By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people. I’m incredibly proud of the Crunchyroll team and what they have been able to accomplish in the digital media space in such a short period of time. They’ve created an end-to-end global ecosystem for this incredible art form.”
Polygon report that Sony now has Crunchyroll’s audience 70 million free members and 3 million paid subscribers; further influencing the growth of the anime market outside of Japan. Across 2017 and 2018, overseas anime fans generated half the industry’s revenue (a total of ¥2.1 trillion JPY, est. $19 billion USD).
In 2019, Sony and Aniplex announced a merger with the aforementioned Funimation, France’s Wakanim, and Australia’s Madman Anime Group. However, not everyone may be happy with the decision due to the reputation of Funimation.
As previously reported and even ignoring an inaccurate and politically-charged moment in the English dub of Prison School in 2015, Funimation (and Aniplex) have drawn ire for inaccurate subtitles and dubs. Despite claiming to distance themselves from their own writers after the Prison School GamerGate incident, the trend would continue in 2017 with Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
There, the usually oblivious and flirty Lucoa said she had changed into a sweater to stop “pesky patriarchal societal demands”– while in the original she stated “Everyone always tried saying something to me, so I tried toning down the exposure”– in reference to characters asking her to dress more modestly as oppose to flirting or making lewd comments.
2017 also saw My First Girlfriend Is a Gal taking similar liberties, by parodying the speech style of President Donald Trump. The series also saw a character decry light novel-fans as “freaks who hate women” seeking “jailbait.” Neither lines are accurate (albeit the former featuring a bombastic speech, and the latter having the character speak poorly of light novel-fans).
In 2019, Interview With Monster Girls several bullies chastise a character defending another from their harassment by calling them a “social justice warrior.” The dub for YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of This World (YU-NO) saw issues in its first episode, changing a line to “you’re such a misogynist!“ instead of “how crude!”
This year, Funimation dropped the series Ishuzoku Reviewers (Interspecies Reviewers). The reason cited by Funimation (as we previously reported on Nicchiban) was that the series “falls outside of [their] standards”.
The subtitles for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War featured a reference to anti-coronavirus pandemic social distancing measures during one episode. Aniplex of America would later apologize for this.
Finally, Funimation kicked up outrage when discussing their involvement with anime production committees in Japan. They discussed in a blog post on what being involved with an anime’s production committee meant. As noted by Polygon, this would also grant Sony more integration into anime production. Crunchyroll have also produced their own anime [1, 2]
Many have suspected Sony Interactive Entertainment’s policy to censor anime-styled sexual content on PlayStation 4 games “to meet global standards” came from higher up the company. Some have feared that this may mean Crunchyroll will not licence anime of a lewd of fan service-heavy nature.
In spite of this, it seems unlikely that Crunchyroll will become a platform that only streams Funimation licensed shows.