Reports say that Sony is in final talks to acquire the massive anime streaming platform for $957 million – a major deal as anime mass-appeal rises.
Sony is set to purchase Crunchyroll, the industry-leading anime streaming platform, for just under $1 billion. The acquisition will put both Crunchyroll and Funimation—whose own streaming service has close to a million subscribers—squarely under Sony’s ownership. Crunchyroll has effectively become the de facto hub for legal anime distribution in the US, and the platform has grown substantially over the years. A good deal of the service’s content is currently available on HBO Max as well.
For years, anime was a relatively niche interest in America. Much of that was due to a lack of official localizations and distribution, which made piracy incredibly common. However, in more recent times, all that has changed. Services like Crunchyroll have made huge strides in bringing over Japanese animation in a timely fashion and with professional subs and dubs, sparking an explosion of interest in anime over the past decade. Most recently, streaming production companies like Netflix have made huge pushes to produce their own original anime content, like Castlevania, Beastars, and the critically-acclaimed Devilman Crybaby.
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Now, Sony is set to purchase Crunchyroll for nearly $1 billion, per Eurogamer. The media giant and PlayStation manufacturer is reportedly in the last stages of finalizing the deal, paying a total price of $957 million. While Sony has had a level of success in the anime realm through their Funimation streaming, Crunchyroll’s scale and popularity is on a whole other level, claiming over three million paying subscribers and 70 million members of the platform’s free service. With no other competitors reportedly in the conversation, the purchase should be a major acquisition for Sony.
Animation has been at a premium lately since the coronavirus pandemic has made in-person productions for live-action shows and movies difficult at best. While some companies have taken serious precautions to keep filming under safe, quarantined conditions, animated entertainment is still a much simpler option while COVID case numbers start to rise once again. With the production appeal of animation and the popular appeal of anime both peaking, Sony’s purchase makes a lot of sense.
There’s also the possibility that the Crunchyroll acquisition could be part of a plan by Sony to launch a singular, comprehensive streaming platform. It’s a trend that’s growing quite popular among media companies of comparable size, like Disney (Disney+), ViacomCBS (CBS All Access, soon to be Paramount Plus), and NBC (Peacock). With Sony’s sizeable back catalog of films, their domination of the anime space, and the potential for original series production, the Crunchyroll purchase could be a major step towards something resembling Sony+.
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