The anime streaming site will be combined with Sony’s own Funimation platform, aiming to create a “unified anime subscription experience”
News that Sony was considering purchasing popular anime streaming service Crunchyroll first arrived in October last year, with suggestions that the transaction would cost them just under a billion dollars.
By December, the deal had been formalised for $1.175 billion, but it has taken eight months for the transaction to be completed.
Crunchyroll, a subsidiary of Otter Media – in turn a subsidiary of AT&T’s WarnerMedia – has been growing since its foundation in 2006, now reporting around 120 million free members and 5 million paying subscribers. The service offers a wide range of anime content, including advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) services, mobile games, manga, events merchandise, and distribution.
Like so much streaming content, the anime market has been booming throughout the pandemic, finding major success on mainstream streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Now, Sony intends to combine Crunchyroll with its existing Funimation streaming platform, with Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., saying the company will seek to create a “unified anime subscription experience” as soon as possible.
"With the addition of Crunchyroll, we have an unprecedented opportunity to serve anime fans like never before and deliver the anime experience across any platform they choose, from theatrical, events, home entertainment, games, streaming, linear TV — everywhere and every way fans want to experience their anime," said Vinciquerra.
Crunchyroll will join Sony’s many other animation groups, including production company Aniplex.
For AT&T, on the other hand, this sale represents the latest of AT&T’s media assets to be offloaded in recent months as the company tries to rapidly reduce its debt. AT&T reportedly plans to reach a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA of below 2.5x by year-end 2023.
But AT&T is far from exiting the media sphere entirely. Earlier this year, the operator agreed to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery, in a move aimed at creating a new streaming service to rival Netflix and Disney+.
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