The anime empire has been enjoying increased popularity and growth in recent times, but that presents a caveat: too many choices on too many separate platforms. With Funimation and Crunchyroll, however, this issue of accessibility will no longer a concern, as the two companies have announced that they are merging under a single roof.
First reported in the end months of last year, Sony’s billion-dollar purchase of the anime streaming site has now been completed, with the final price being a whopping US$1.175 billion. The goal, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra explained, is to develop “a unified 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,” added the man in the official press release.
The deal means that Sony now owns Crunchyroll’s other offerings on top of its anime streaming service, including event merchandise and video game titles. The company’s future plans for these existing anime have yet to be revealed, though, and information like pricing changes or licensing agreements are likely still being ironed out. Another common concern is how the company will be adapting to the merger, taking into consideration the difference in video players, content library, and the like.
It’ll be interesting to see how the unification of these two properties can make its mark in a market so rife with competition, especially with Netflix in the picture. The latter streamer, after all, continues to uphold its overwhelming presence, and the immense popularity of the anime genre is only doing favours for its growth. One thing’s for sure: Sony certainly isn’t messing around, with the US$1.175 billion purchase being much, much higher than its acquisition of Funimation back in 2017, which was priced at US$149 million.
No matter the case, the merger might prove to be a good start for fans, who can freely choose between the subbed and dubbed versions of original works – a trait that was previously tied to Crunchyroll and Funimation respectively – without having two separate subscriptions. The rest, it seems, will now lie in Sony’s hands.