Yes, you heard it right! 14-year-old anime streaming service Crunchyroll is reportedly being sold to Sony Pictures Entertainment for at least 1 billion dollars by WarnerMedia. This has been reportedly a part of its parent company AT&t’s efforts to offload some of its debt.
The price is reportedly much higher than what was paid for Funimation. (Crunchyroll’s competitor streaming service)
Crunchyroll at present boasts to have the world’s largest anime library. It has over 1000 titles and 30000 episodes. The streaming service in July 2020, passed 3 million subscribers. There were reportedly 2 million subscribers at the end of 2018. Crunchyroll has streamed top, hit animes- Haikyuu!, The God of Highschool, and Jojo’s Bizzare Adventures among others.
Despite such popularity, Jason Kilar, WarnerMedia’s chief, is looking to sell any assets that are not integral to the company’s business. The company is instead betting its stake on HBO Max, its new streaming service.
AT&T has been selling off assets for the last two years to lighten its debt. It sold its 10% state in Hulu for 1.43 billion dollars. The company has a 153.4 billion dollars long term debt. A Time Warner deal led to the majority of the debt.
Many feel that although selling off the popular streaming service will help lighten the load but they will be selling one of their most valuable and successful assets. Also, a huge amount of viewers of WarnerMedia will be lost with Crunchyroll’s subscribers count being as high as HBO Max, which is just 2 months old.
There is reportedly no official statement on the deal from Sony Pictures, Crunchyroll, or WarnerMedia. Representatives for WarnerMedia, Crunchyroll, and Sony Pictures Entertainment have reportedly declined to comment.
In 2006, a group of graduates from the University Of California founded Crunchyroll. It delivers content to 50 million subscribers globally. Crunchyroll is part of Otter Media division which is a subsidiary of AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which also includes Rooster Teeth, Fullscreen, VRV, and interests in Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and studio Gunpowder & Sky.
Earlier this year, the streaming service announced its inaugural slate of originals, with 12 total series. According to Otter Media, the first two originals Tower of God, which is a Crunchyroll and Webtoon Production and The God of High School has both set new viewership records on the platform.
In late 2019, Crunchyroll expanded its suite of consumer brands to include streaming services Anime Digital Network and Anime on Demand, DVD and manga publisher Kaze and live-action content distributor Eye See Movies.
Crunchyroll also hosts events, offers a line of consumer products, operates Crunchyroll Games, and sells manga titles.
Funimation and Crunchyroll had a deal previously to cross-license content. But Sony, which bought Funimation in 2017 ended the deal in 2018. Funimation is now an independently operated joint venture of Aniplex and Son. Aniplex and Son is a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
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