AT&T to sell anime streamer Crunchyroll for about $1.2 billion
Anime streaming service Crunchyroll is getting a new owner.
On Wednesday, AT&T said it was selling the San Francisco-based streamer to Sony’s Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion.
The acquisition follows the sale of other smaller subscription streaming services as media companies aim to expand their foothold in the marketplace.
Crunchyroll has more than 3 million subscribers, with a library that has more than 1,000 titles including the horror series “Jujutsu Kaisen” and “The God of High School,” a tournament competition. In addition to streaming videos, Crunchyroll also offers games, events and merchandise. Subscriptions start at $7.99 a month and consumers can also choose to watch for free with ads. The service has 90 million registered users.
“These amazing fans have helped to propel anime into a global phenomenon,” said Joanne Waage, general manager of Crunchyroll in a statement. “Combining the strength of the Crunchyroll brand and the expertise of our global team with Funimation is an exciting prospect and a win for the incredible art form of anime.”
Crunchyroll has more than 500 employees worldwide, with more than a dozen in L.A.
Funimation is a joint venture between U.S.-based Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Japan’s Aniplex Inc., a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. Funimation’s streaming services have more than 700 anime series in their library.
Sony is strengthening its position in the anime market by acquiring a majority stake in Funimation, one of the biggest U.S. distributors of Japanese animated movies and TV series.
Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra said he believes his company is well-positioned to deliver the content.
“Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere,” Vinciquerra said in a statement.
As the mega-corporations swoop in, smaller streaming services such as Tubi, Pluto TV and Crunchyroll find a way to compete.
The streaming market has changed dramatically since Crunchyroll was founded in 2006. Now, larger rivals like Netflix are also investing in the anime space. Because there are more buyers, the cost of licensing anime content has increased in recent years.
The sale of Crunchyroll comes as AT&T’s WarnerMedia is restructuring its business. Last month, more than 1,000 people were expected to be laid off in a round of cuts, affecting 5% to 7% of its staff.
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