AT&T announced yesterday that it’s selling anime streaming service Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation for an acquisition price of $1.18 billion.
According to the announcement, Crunchyroll has 90 million registered users and 3 million paying subscribers. The service started in 2006 as a site for fan-uploaded, fan-subtitled (and often pirated) content, but it has increasingly become a home for officially licensed anime, along with games, manga and merchandise.
However, corporate parent AT&T/WarnerMedia’s streaming strategy now seems to be focused solely on its new HBO Max service. It’s shut down standalone streaming offerings like FilmStruck while shifting DC Universe from streaming to digital comics.
As a result, Funimation is likely to be a better fit. It also specializes in anime distribution, with Sony acquiring a majority stake in 2017. The company is currently operated as a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Animplex, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.
“We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family,” said Sony Picture Chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra in a statement. “Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world. Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere.”
The announcement also includes a statement from WarnerMedia Chief Revenue Officer Tony Goncalves, who said he’s “incredibly proud of the Crunchyroll team and what they have been able to accomplish in the digital media space in such a short period of time.”