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Sony’s Crunchyroll Takeover Now Official

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It’s been talked about for many months, but now it’s as unstoppable as a Kamehameha straight at your face: Sony has officially purchased Crunchyroll from AT&T for $1.175 billion. The move essentially turns Sony into one of the largest anime suppliers AND producers in the world.

Here’s how we got here: Warner Bros was interested in entering the anime business and purchased Crunchyroll in 2018. Then AT&T was interested in entering the movie business and purchased Warner Bros in 2019. In 2020, AT&T realized the money coming in from WB was not going to make up for the immense debt they took on to buy them, and looked through their catalog urgently for things to sell. They found Crunchyroll and put it up for sale. But even that wasn’t enough, so they yelled “Hey Discovery, you want this movie studio? Buyer’s remorse.”

AT&T’s ownership of WarnerMedia was extremely short, but lasted just long enough to do two things: reverse the Crunchyroll buyout, and cancel The Venture Bros for the cold reason that Hulu owned the streaming rights and not HBO Max. Grr.

At the same time, Sony was looking to expand the anime side of their business (one of the few things they own that’s going well for them). It was announced last December that AT&T would be selling Crunchyroll to Sony, but reported delays occurred in the Justice Department approving the sale. The issue: Sony already owns Funimation and Aniplex, which would mean less competition in the — just kidding, they don’t care. Merger approved!

“We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family,” says Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world. Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere.”

It’s too early to know what kind of changes the consumer could be facing as a result of the Sony gobble-up. More anime in one convenient place would be a plus, but higher monthly fees would be a minus. We’ll find out, won’t we?