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The Ministry of Justice is concerned about an anime monopoly under the Sony agreement

Sony’s plan to combine Crunchyroll and Funimation into one streaming service to lead its anime empire seemed as simple as throwing AT&T a billion dollars. But now the plan is reportedly concerning enough for the US Department of Justice to extend the $ 1.175 billion antitrust review to a complete probe, according to three sources who spoke to The information.

DOJ is focused on whether the agreement limits the alternatives to Japanese studios that want license exhibitions in the US, according to The informationsources. “WarnerMedia and Sony have told the Department of Justice that Crunchyroll and Sony̵

7;s budding anime empire are just two of many options anime creators have to distribute their shows outside of Japan,” The information writes, but while direct competition is not a concern, there may be other reasons to worry.

Controlling both Funimation and Crunchyroll means one thing in the context of anime streaming services in the US, but including all the other things Crunchyroll does, such as manga publishing and anime conventions, and the international anime companies Sony already acquired in Australia and France, the company can have enormous control over the entire industry.

As we wrote in 2019, Funimation and Crunchyroll were already two of the biggest streaming anime services outside of Japan, while big players like Amazon, Netflix and even the newer HBO Max have also improved their offerings with anime. If the DOJ does not block Sony’s deal and manages to merge Crunchyroll and Funimation, Sony could very easily become the anime streaming provider to beat.

Sony, AT&T and DOJ did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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