According to a new report Sony wants to acquire the anime streaming service Crunchyroll.
Nikkei Asia reported on Friday that Sony, which has its own anime streaming service in Funimation, is in “final negotiations” to acquire Crunchyroll for nearly $1 billion and position the Japanese company as a global leader in the industry.
The report states that Sony has recently won the negotiating rights to Crunchyroll from US telecommunications giant AT&T, which bought the anime streaming service in 2018.
AT&T has been hit hard economically in recent years, as the company reported debt of $150 billion at the end of 2019. The COVID 19 pandemic has brought disaster to the fate of the telecommunications giant when the company reported new debt of $3.27 billion in May.
Crunchyroll has reportedly been on sale for some time. The information reported in August that AT&T had told Sony that they would sell the streaming service for $1.5 billion, which the Japanese company did not want.
The U.S.-based anime streaming service, which was launched in 2006, has a free (with advertising) and a paid stage of $8 per month. It has 70 million free users and 3 million paid subscribers.
The service is available in over 200 countries, including the USA and Europe.
Crunchyroll has more than 1000 anime titles, including originals, and the recently released anime title Burn the Witch, which Sony could use for itself or as a license for other streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix.
In 2017, Sony acquired Funimation, which has become one of the leading companies in the anime distribution industry. Demon Slayer, of which Sony owns the rights, is now one of the most popular anime licensed by the company to others. The latest film, Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, dominated the world’s box offices when it was first released in October, showing just how popular the medium has become.
Aniplex, the licensing studio behind popular anime like Sword Art Online and the aforementioned Demon Slayer, is also part of Sony.
Anime fans may remember when it was announced at the end of 2018 that the long-standing partnership between Funimation and Crunchyroll would end, so that certain titles would have to be removed by both parties.
If the Crunchyroll deal goes through, Sony will have the industry in a stranglehold and extend its reach to countries where it has not yet established itself.
How this would affect Crunchyroll’s current subscribers is unclear. A curated collection of Crunchyroll titles is currently bundled with HBO Max, while a native app is available on mobile devices, streaming sticks and game consoles.
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