Last year, AT&T announced its plans to sell off Crunchyroll, its anime streaming service, to Sony, the entertainment megacorporation that also owns Funimation. This came after years of the two companies working together to release their respective programs on one another’s digital platforms. Synergy between the two companies is nothing new, but now they’re about to fuse permanently.
Today, Sony and AT&T announced that the ink has finally dried on the $1.175 billion deal making Crunchyroll a part of Sony’s larger portfolio of dubbed, localized anime content that it owns the distribution rights to. In a statement, Sony expressed how the move is part of the company’s plan to bolster its offering to consumers. “Crunchyroll adds tremendous value to Sony’s existing anime businesses, including Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan,” Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquierra said. “With Crunchyroll and Funimation, we are committed to creating the ultimate anime experience for fans and presenting a unique opportunity for our key partners, publishers, and the immensely talented creators to continue to deliver their masterful content to audiences around the world.
When Sony and AT&T first announced the plans for Crunchyroll, there were some understandable concerns about antitrust and monopolies considering Funimation and Crunchyroll’s size and dominance within the anime space. As the Verge notes, in addition to producing anime, Crunchyroll also publishes manga, puts on anime conventions, and has purchased anime production companies outright, solidly establishing it as one of the power players within the industry. This deal is only going to make Funimation’s footprint that much larger and, in theory, encourage anime fans to flock even deeper into another walled garden within the larger ongoing streaming wars.
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