Is it time for Sony’s takeover of Crunchyroll? The proposed acquisition of specialized streaming platforms Crunchyroll by the Japanese hardware and entertainment giant may now face a further degree of uncertainty and delays in legislation.
Technical website The information reported that the US Department of Justice has extended its antitrust review of the agreement. The move can delay the completion of the agreement by as much as six months, or even track it down completely.
The deal was announced in December last year with a price tag of 1.175 billion dollars. It sees Funimation, a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Aniplex, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), which buys 1
Sony noted at the time that the agreement was subject to government approvals, but they did not try to predict when it could be completed. Sony had not responded Varietyrecent inquiries after press time.
According to The Information, the Department of Justice is reviewing the agreement to see if it will give Japanese animation studios fewer opportunities to distribute shows in the United States.
Crunchyroll claims more than 3 million VOD subscribers and around 90 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories. It offers ad-supported VOD, mobile games, manga, events and distribution. Crunchyroll says it has more than 1,000 titles and over 30,000 episodes, which they claim represent the world’s largest anime library. In the United States, Crunchyroll’s ad-free subscription service is $ 7.99 per month and includes simulcasts of Japanese anime programs as soon as one hour after they air in the country.
Anime fans have expressed fears that Sony will merge Funimation and Crunchyroll and reduce choices or increase prices. Others have questioned whether a change of ownership from Warner to Sony will shake up content collaboration between Crunchyroll and Warner as VRV and Toonami. The fate of Crunchyroll’s relationship with VIZ Media and Webtoon for home video releases and manhwa licenses, respectively, is also unclear.
Sony, which lacks a global streaming platform like Disney Plus or HBO Max, may see the deal as addressing some of the disadvantages it currently operates compared to other entertainment conglomerates that include a Hollywood studio and a direct-to-consumer video business. Sony can also see the proposed agreement as strengthening its position in a special corner of the streaming universe and as strengthening its position in an entire Japanese product.
The US anime market is fragmented, with five leading companies including Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation, Amazon Prime Video and Hidive. Netflix, which is many times larger than Crunchyroll in the US, invests heavily in Japanese and Korean animation and may be on its way to becoming the market leader – if it is not already.
“If the DOJ decided to try to block the deal, the only effect would be to keep Sony, which does not own other streaming services in the US, a small player in streaming, while distributing companies such as Netflix and Amazon,” the information suggested in a accompanying sentence.