Sony will be buying anime streaming service Crunchyroll from AT&T for $1.175 billion, Sony and AT&T announced Wednesday. Specifically, Crunchyroll will become part of Sony’s Funimation, which already licenses many popular shows such as Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and One Piece.
Now that Sony owns both Crunchyroll and Funimation, the company has tremendous power over anime in the US at a time when many other media companies are trying to figure out their anime content. Netflix has also invested heavily in both licensing and producing its own anime content.
“We are excited to embark on this new journey,” said Joanne Waage, general manager of Crunchyroll, in a statement. “Crunchyroll has built a world-class brand with a passionate fan-base of over 3 million subscribers, 50 million social followers and 90 million registered users. These amazing fans have helped to propel anime into a global phenomenon. 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.”
“The union of Funimation and Crunchyroll is a win for anime fans around the world that will elevate the art and culture of this medium for decades to come,” Colin Decker, CEO of Funimation Global Group, said in a statement. “Combining these two great companies will be a win for fans, and enable us to compete at a truly global scale. I am honored to welcome the wonderful Crunchyroll team to a shared mission—to help everyone belong to the extraordinary world of anime.”
AT&T has been shopping around Crunchyroll for some time, and AT&T and Sony have apparently been in talks for months about the deal. In August, The Information reported that AT&T wanted Sony to pay $1.5 billion for Crunchyroll, and the two sides were reportedly close to a nearly $1 billion deal in October.
AT&T purchased Crunchyroll as part of Otter Media in 2018 from the Chernin Group for a reported sum of more than $1 billion, according to the New York Times. The sale gave AT&T ownership over a number of digital properties. John Stankey, current CEO of AT&T but then head of WarnerMedia, said the company would use the Otter Media acquisition to “harness Otter’s expertise” while strengthening its own digital assets. Under Stankey’s leadership, AT&T and WarnerMedia are now focused on building up HBO Max, the crown jewel of the company’s streaming offerings.