Funimation’s Crunchyroll Acquisition Means Big Anime Is Here

Funimation’s Crunchyroll Acquisition Means Big Anime Is Here

The Funimation-Crunchyroll deal represents a big shift for the industry and the latest twist in the streaming wars.

Earlier this month, Funimation finalized its acquisition of Crunchyroll for $1.175 billion, merging the anime megaplexes of Sony and AT&T and setting the stage for industry upheaval. The era of Big Anime is officially here.

Consolidation is the hottest trend when it comes to streaming services. Power players in the world of content are folding in their competition like giant solar systems bending space-time in their direction. WarnerMedia is merging with Discovery; Disney acquired 21st Century Fox; Viacom merged with CBS. Sometimes, these deals are impactful enough to attract regulatory scrutiny. The US Department of Justice sued AT&T over its plans to buy Time Warner in 2017, claiming the resulting megacorp would harm consumers, but the company prevailed. Funimation’s acquisition of Crunchyroll was also reportedly the target of an antitrust review after the agreement was announced last December.

Eight months later, FuniRoll will exist—though details remain scarce about what that will look like. Sony Pictures Entertainment’s CEO, Tony Vinciquerra, did give one hint: “Our goal is to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible,” he said in a press release on August 9. Anime industry experts interviewed by WIRED say that Funimation-Crunchyroll, however it manifests, represents a big shift in the size and structure of the anime industry and a key footnote in the greater narrative of today’s streaming wars.

“The influence and business of anime is changing from niche to mainstream,” says anime industry analyst and journalist Tadashi Sudo, through a translator. With Funimation-Crunchyroll on the horizon, he adds, “the power balance of the anime industry in North America will change dramatically.”