Sony is to pay approximately $400 million for a minority stake in Bilibili, a Shanghai-based video and gaming platform with an emphasis on animation.
Here are the details:
- The transaction, which was expected to close by April 10, will net Sony just under 5% of shares in Bilibili. According to a statement, “Bilibili and Sony will enter into a business collaboration agreement at the closing to pursue collaboration opportunities within the area of entertainment business in the Chinese market, including anime and mobile games.”
- Rui Chen, chairman and CEO of Bilibili, said, “We are excited to partner with Sony, the world’s leader in entertainment and technology. The strategic investment and business cooperation further align our goals to bring best-in-class content offerings and services to our users, as we increase our domestic stronghold in animation and mobile games. We look forward to joining efforts on a broader scale to fulfill the tremendous and growing entertainment needs in China.”
- This isn’t the first deal between the two companies. Last year, Bilibili partnered with Funimation, the Sony-owned U.S. anime distributor, to jointly license anime titles for the U.S. and Chinese markets.
- Bilibili started out in 2009 as an online community focused on anime, comics, and games. It has grown to encompass user-generated content, licensed and original shows, live broadcasting, and mobile games across a range of genres. At the end of 2019, it claimed 130 million monthly average users and 37.9 million daily average users.
- The website remains a popular platform for animation, especially Chinese-produced shows — in November, it announced that it had commissioned a slate of 27 Chinese-produced animation series. Indeed, the website’s “Chinese anime” channel is now more popular than the Japanese anime one.
(Pictured at top: Bilibili’s “My Three-Body: The Legend of Zhang Beihai” is a nine-part animated series based on Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novel “The Three-Body Problem.”)