Consolidation ahoy! Sony, already a major player in anime, is reportedly on the verge of acquiring Crunchyroll, the leading anime streaming platform in the U.S. The media and entertainment colossus recently obtained the exclusive right to negotiate for Crunchyroll.
Here are the details:
- Sony has entered final negotiations with AT&T’s Warnermedia, Crunchyroll’s current owner, according to the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei. The paper reports that the deal would be worth more than 100 billion yen ($957 million).
- Crunchyroll has three million paying subscribers; the deal would value it at around $320 per subscriber. The company also produces shows, publishes news, hosts a forum, organizes events, and more. Overall, it has 70 million registered users.
- In August, The Information reported that Warnermedia had offered Crunchyroll for $1.5 billion to Sony, which “balked” at the figure. It added that Warnermedia had first considered selling the business in May.
- Sony has a 95% stake in Funimation, an anime distributor and streaming service, which is Crunchyroll’s main rival. Last year, Funimation was combined with two other of Sony’s anime units — France’s Wakanim and Australia’s Madman Anime Group — into a joint venture under the Funimation name.
- The conglomerate also owns Aniplex, a production company with major anime titles to its name, including Fullmetal Alchemist and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. A Demon Slayer feature spin-off (image at top) is currently storming the Japanese box office, grossing $102 million in ten days.
- Additionally, in April, Sony paid around $400 million for a minority stake in Bilibili, a Chinese content platform with a strong focus on anime. Yesterday, Funimation announced its first Chinese animated series, Heaven Official’s Blessing, in partnership with Bilibili.
- The anime market in the U.S. is booming, fueled by considerable investment from streaming platforms. In recent years, generalist streamers — especially Netflix — have muscled into the market, while dedicated services like Crunchyroll and Funimation have been snapped up by conglomerates. The market is now a major corporate battleground.