Home Channels Anime Sony’s Takeover Of Crunchyroll Seems To Have Hit A Snag

Sony’s Takeover Of Crunchyroll Seems To Have Hit A Snag

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Hey, wasn’t Sony supposed to have Crunchyroll by now? The Japan-based company made a 1.175 billion-dollar bid for the Western anime streamer last December, and current owners AT&T accepted. The final step was an approval from the U.S. Justice Department, and from that point on Crunchyroll would be all Sony’s.

“We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family,” Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said at the time. “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.”

However, not only has the approval not happened, but the Justice Department has extended its deadline for its anti-trust review of the deal, which could delay everything by as much as six months — or derail it altogether.

There’s a good reason to not let this purchase happen: Sony also owns Funimation, the OTHER big anime streamer, and the combined size of both would make it very difficult for competition. But given that much larger, more consumer-unfriendly mergers have passed inspection without a hitch, I figured this one would never even be questioned. I assumed the general reaction from the doddering, 85-year-old gatekeeper would be “What’s anime? Push it through.”

It was pointed out by Variety that Sony is the only producer of TV and film that does not have their own branded streaming service yet — which is very strange when you consider their tendency to blindly chase trends. Owning Crunchyroll wouldn’t solve this problem any more than owning Funimation already has. Perhaps Sony still remembers when they attempted a streaming series, Powers, exclusively for Playstation owners and it didn’t work out.

Note that even if Sony’s bid for Crunchyroll IS finally approved, it will not affect the previous deal between the streamer and Adult Swim for a string of original productions coming to Toonami, like Junji Ito’s Spiral, a series based in the Blade Runner universe, one based on Sega’s Shenmue games, and Pirate Princess, an original production. (Weird how we still haven’t seen any of these.)