FUNimation to Acquire Crunchyroll for $1.175 billion

FUNimation, or more specifically FUNimation’s Global Group owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, have announced plans to acquire AT&T owned Crunchyroll for $1.175bn. 

The press release published on Sony Pictures Entertainment website can be found quoted in full below, with the basic announcement also available on FUNimation and Crunchyroll’s relevant news sites.

Culver City, CA and Dallas, TX, December 9, 2020 — Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and AT&T Inc.* (NYSE:T) today announced that AT&T agreed to sell its Crunchyroll anime business to Funimation Global Group, LLC. Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.’s subsidiary, Aniplex Inc.

Crunchyroll is a premier anime direct-to-consumer service within AT&T’s WarnerMedia segment with more than 3 million SVOD subscribers and growing.  It serves 90 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories offering AVOD, mobile games, manga, events merchandise and distribution. The combination of Crunchyroll and Funimation provides the opportunity to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers.

“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,” said Tony Goncalves, Chief Revenue Officer, WarnerMedia. “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.”

“We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family,” said Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world. Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere.  Funimation has been doing this for over 25 years and we look forward to continuing to leverage the power of creativity and technology to succeed in this rapidly growing segment of entertainment.”

The purchase price for the transaction is $1.175 billion subject to customary working capital and other adjustments, and the proceeds will be paid in cash at closing. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

The objective of this purchase is, as mentioned in the press release, for FUNimation to continue to nurture a global community and to bring more anime to people across the world. Our understanding of this objective is that FUNimation NOW (or a rebranded Crunchyroll?) will become the one location for anime fans to watch all of their favourite shows without having to choose between different platforms, as currently some titles are only available on each respective platform.

Exact details on what this merger/purchase means have yet to be announced, but anime fans across the world are hesitant about this news, especially fans in the UK. Previously FUNimation and Crunchyroll held a partnership that saw them license and produce shows for streaming and for home video, but when this partnership fell apart planned titles in the UK – which were being handled by Anime Limited at the time – were cancelled. This also caused a chain effect that saw a wide variety of titles to not be released in the UK.

Shortly after this FUNimation purchased Manga Entertainment UK so that they became part of the FUNimaiton Global Group and could access their catalogue of titles, however while this was positive in practice it has so far only seen popular titles and shonen titles released in the UK with other titles being left on the side lines. Of course the cost of licensing, rating and authoring discs in the UK is astronomically expensive when compared to the US, even more so if titles do not sell, but it has meant the UK’s offering of anime titles is much less than that of those in America and Australia.

Basically fans in the UK, and across the world, are concerned with what this announcement means for the future of anime titles in home video, but at the very least it should deliver interesting results for the streaming services offered, so long as the applications work of course.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has produced content for ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

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