Amid news of Crunchyroll’s sale to Sony, could the site’s dominance over the anime streaming industry be brought down by competitors on YouTube?

Back in summer, fans of Crunchyroll were concerned that the platform could go be starved of resources after reports of a potential sale to Sony was being halted by the steep asking price.

Now, with news that the deal has been finally agreed and new third-party licensing deals being made with competitors on YouTube, fans are wondering how the anime-streaming industry could change in 2021?

Sony buys Crunchyroll

  • The deal between AT&T and Sony’s Funimation group for Crunchyroll has been finalised, with the anime streaming platform being sold for $1.175 billion.

Back in early-August, The Information revealed that a deal between AT&T and Sony for Crunchyroll was being held up because of the asking price; a mouth-watering $1.5 billion.

There were concerns that if the asking price wasn’t agreed, the streaming platform could be deprived of the required resources needed to continue licensing and producing original series.

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There were then reports that the deal was entering into final negotiations, in which Sony would pay $957 million for the anime-streaming service. Recently, it has been confirmed that Sony’s Funimation group has purchased Crunchyroll from AT&T for $1.175 billion.

As part of the deal, Sony will gain more than 1,000 original anime titles, 70 million free members and more than 3 million paying subscribers – which could “catapult the Japanese icon into a global battle with the likes of Netflix.”

On one hand, this is fantastic news for fans of original anime content, as Sony’s additional resources could fund the production of countless new series.

The sale could also see Crunchyroll and Funimation be merged into a single mega-anime streaming site. The two platforms had been competitors for many years, but with the increase of original anime content from Netflix and Amazon Prime, a merger could solidify their place at the top of the hill.

However, the sale of Crunchyroll could also mean that subscription prices for customers are increased. Fan-favourite anime-Youtuber ‘ForneverNews‘ explains that because “Crunchyroll is the biggest anime distributor in North America and if they [Sony] have that and Funimation, they could all of a sudden starting next year Crunchyroll could be going from $15.99 on a subscription.”

Competition from anime studios on YouTube?

In November, it was reported that several animation studios including Toei Animation, Kodansha and Nippon Animation were banding together to create their own channel on YouTube.

The channel, named Animelog (or Anilog), will stream anime content from these studios for free on YouTube, offering the studios more control over distribution.

However, there is a chance that this new channel and similar studio-led distribution networks in the future will make platforms like Crunchyroll and Funimation obsolete.

Aside from producing their own original series, Crunchyroll and Funimation provide a streaming service to millions of people around the world by licensing anime from the studios and acting as a third-party distributor.

If such free channels, run directly by a union of animation studios, find major success on YouTube, there is a possibility that fans will no longer feel the need to pay subscription fees to sites like Crunchyroll or Funimation.

There are already fans around the world concerned about this, with a fascinating Reddit post on how Animelog could affect the development of the hit anime Tower of God.

User Fuuta-chan explains, “This means that the anime companies are probably pull back their contracts with Crunchyroll and stream themselves the episodes in Youtube.”

Whilst this does mean more competition, it won’t mean the ‘death of Crunchyroll or Funimation’ as many people are suggesting on social media.

As Fuuta-chan points out, this could force platforms like Crunchyroll to invest more money into original content, rather than buying the streaming rights of other anime.

If you would like more information on the anime streaming competition, you can watch an excellent video from Hero Hei on the new licensing of anime on YouTube.

By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]

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