Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll, Inc. is an American distributor, publisher, production and licensing company focused on streaming anime, manga, and dorama. Founded in 2006 by a group of University of California, Berkeley graduates,[9] Crunchyroll's distribution channel and partnership program delivers content to over 100 million registered users worldwide.[7] Crunchyroll is a subsidiary of Otter Media, which is a subsidiary of AT&T's WarnerMedia.[10] Sony announced in December 2020 that its subsidiary Funimation would acquire Crunchyroll from AT&T for approximately US$1.175 billion.[8] Crunchyroll has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Lausanne, Paris, Berlin, and Chișinău,[11] and is a member of The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA).[12] "Crunchyroll Hime", also known as "Hime", is the official mascot of Crunchyroll.[13]

Crunchyroll, Inc.
Type of businessSubsidiary
Type of site
Video streaming service
Available inEnglish, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Arabic, Italian, Russian
FoundedMay 15, 2006 (2006-05-15)
Headquarters,
Founder(s)Kun Gao[1][2]
James Lin[1][2]
Brandon Ooi[1]
Vu Nguyen[3][4]
Key peopleJoanne Waage (GM)
Thomas Overton (CTO)
Ryan McDonald (Head of Product)
Industry
ParentOtter Media (sale to Sony/Funimation pending)
DivisionsCrunchyroll EMEA
Crunchyroll Games, LLC
Crunchyroll Studios[5][6]
URLwww.crunchyroll.com
RegistrationOptional
Users 100 million (2021)
(4 million paying)[7][8]
Current statusActive

Crunchyroll offers over 1,000 anime shows,[12] more than 200 East Asian dramas to users, and around 80 manga titles as Crunchyroll Manga, although not all programming is available worldwide due to licensing restrictions. Crunchyroll passed one million paid subscribers in February 2017,[12][14] and has over 3 million paid subscribers as of 2020.[7] Crunchyroll also selects some anime titles for release on home video through its distribution partners (Funimation, Sentai Filmworks, Viz Media, & Discotek Media in North America, Anime Limited in the United Kingdom).[15][16]

History

Origins and illegal distribution

Crunchyroll started in 2006 as a for-profit video upload and streaming site that specialized in hosting East Asian video content. Some of the content hosted on Crunchyroll included fansubbed versions of East Asian shows.[1][17]

In 2008, Crunchyroll secured a capital investment of $4.05 million from the venture capital firm Venrock.[18] The investment drew criticism from anime distributors and licensors Bandai Entertainment and Funimation as the site continued to allow users to upload illegal copies of licensed titles.[19]

However, Crunchyroll eventually began securing legal distribution agreements with companies, including Gonzo, for an increasing number of titles. On January 8, 2009, after announcing a deal with TV Tokyo to host episodes of Naruto Shippuden, Crunchyroll stated that it was committed to removing all copyright-infringing material from its site and to hosting only content to which it had legitimate distribution rights.[20]

In 2010, Crunchyroll announced its acquisition of the North American DVD rights to 5 Centimeters Per Second. This was the first DVD release licensed by Crunchyroll.[21]

On October 30, 2013, Crunchyroll began digitally distributing 12 different manga titles from Kodansha – series such as Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail were part of the manga that were available initially – through Crunchyroll Manga.[22]

Chernin Group ownership

On December 2, 2013, The Chernin Group, former News Corp. president Peter Chernin's holding company, announced that it acquired a controlling interest in Crunchyroll. A person with knowledge of the transaction said the price for the acquisition was close to $100 million. The Chernin Group said that Crunchyroll management and existing investor TV Tokyo would maintain a "significant" stake in the company.[23][24][25]

On April 22, 2014, AT&T and The Chernin Group announced the formation of a joint venture to acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top (OTT) video services. Both companies committed over $500 million in funding to the venture.[26] The new company was named Otter Media and became the majority owner of Crunchyroll.[27] On August 3, 2015, Variety reported that Otter Media would unveil Ellation, a new umbrella company for its subscription-based video services including Crunchyroll.[28] Ellation's services included VRV, which debuted in 2016, a video streaming platform described as targeting "geeks, gamers and lovers of comedy, fantasy and technology."[29]

On October 22, 2015, Anime News Network reported that Crunchyroll had achieved 700,000 paying subscribers. In addition, the company announced that Crunchyroll and Sumitomo Corporation had created a joint venture to produce and invest in anime productions.[30][31][32][33]

On April 11, 2016, Crunchyroll and Kadokawa Corporation announced the formation of a strategic alliance that gave Crunchyroll exclusive worldwide digital distribution rights (excluding Asia) for Kadokawa anime titles in the upcoming year. It also granted Crunchyroll the right to co-finance Kadokawa anime titles to be produced in the future.[34]

Funimation partnership, and home video expansion

On July 1, 2016, Crunchyroll announced plans to dub and release a number of series on home video.[35]

On September 8, 2016, Crunchyroll announced a partnership with Funimation.[36] Crunchyroll would stream selected Funimation titles, while Funimation would stream selected Crunchyroll titles, as well as their upcoming dubbed content. In addition, Funimation and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment would act as distributors for Crunchyroll's home video catalog. On October 18, 2018, Funimation announced that their partnership with Crunchyroll ended as a result of Sony Pictures Television's acquisition of Funimation and AT&T's acquisition of Crunchyroll's parent company Otter Media.[37]

On February 9, 2017, Crunchyroll announced that it had reached one million paid subscribers.[12][14]

On March 22, 2017, Kun Gao took over as representative director of its Japanese branch, succeeding Vincent Shortino.[38]

On March 30, 2017, Crunchyroll began to distribute anime through Steam.[39][40]

On November 4, 2017, a group of hackers managed to DNS hijack the official site for almost six hours. Users were redirected to a fake lookalike site which prompted users to download ransomware under the guise of "CrunchyViewer". Crunchyroll filed a first information report against the hackers.[41]

WarnerMedia ownership and internal productions

In January 2018, Otter Media bought the remaining shares (20%) of Crunchyroll from TV Tokyo and other investors.[42] In August 2018, AT&T acquired the remainder of Otter Media that it did not already own from Chernin Group; the company and Crunchyroll were thus folded under WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner, of which AT&T had also recently completed an acquisition).[43]

In October 2018, the service announced an expansion into original content with the anime-inspired series High Guardian Spice produced by Ellation Studios.[44]

On March 4, 2019, it was announced that Otter Media would be placed under Warner Bros. as part of a reorganization. As a result of said reorganization, the company and Crunchyroll became corporate sisters to the American cable channel Cartoon Network and its nighttime programming block Adult Swim, which have been known for their television broadcasting of most of its anime under their Toonami brand.[45] Due to a subsequent reorganization, Crunchyroll was moved under WarnerMedia Entertainment (owner of networks such as TBS and TNT) in May 2019, so that its COO could oversee an upcoming entertainment streaming service from the brand.[46]

On July 3, 2019, Crunchyroll announced that they had partnered with Viz Media to distribute select Crunchyroll licensed titles on home video and electronic sell-through in the United States and Canada.[47]

On July 20, 2019, independent Australian production company Glitch Productions announced that they had partnered with Crunchyroll to produce their YouTube original series, Meta Runner.[48]

On September 6, 2019, Crunchyroll announced that they became the majority investor in Viz Media Europe.[49] Crunchyroll solidified this deal on December 4, 2019, becoming the majority owners of Viz Media Europe Group, and appointed former Viz Media Europe president John Easum as Head of Crunchyroll EMEA.[50]

On October 15, 2019, it was announced that Naver Corporation's webtoon publishing portal, WEBTOON, was partnering with Crunchyroll to produce animated adaptations of its series.[51] On February 25, 2020, Crunchyroll announced a slate of several programs under their new "Crunchyroll Originals" brand, including anime adaptations of the webtoons Tower of God, The God of High School, and Noblesse.

On April 2, 2020, Crunchyroll announced it had rebranded Viz Media Europe as Crunchyroll EMEA, with former Viz Media Europe brands Kazé, Anime on Demand, Anime Digital Network and Eye See Movies becoming Crunchyroll brands, and AV Visionen and Ellation becoming Crunchyroll companies.[52][53] As a result of the rebranding, the Ellation name transitioned from Otter Media's Consumer Division to Crunchyroll's Moldovan offices,[54] and VRV became a brand of Crunchyroll.[55] Ellation was later renamed to Crunchyroll Moldova on April 17, 2020.[56]

On September 5, 2020, Crunchyroll announced that they had entered in a partnership with Sentai Filmworks to distribute Crunchyroll licensed titles onto home video and electronic sell-through, with Granbelm, Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma: The Fourth Plate, Ascendance of a Bookworm, and World Trigger being the first titles distributed through the partnership.[57]

Acquisition by Sony

On August 12, 2020, The Information reported that Sony Pictures Entertainment, Funimation's parent company, was in talks to acquire Crunchyroll from WarnerMedia for US$1.5 billion.[58] According to Variety, the amount was decreased to US$1 billion.[59] Later in October 2020, it was reported that Sony was in its final talks with AT&T to acquire the streaming service for more than ¥100 billion, roughly US$957 million.[60]

On December 9, 2020, Funimation and its owner Sony announced that they had reached a deal with AT&T and WarnerMedia to acquire Crunchyroll for around US$1.175 billion. The acquisition is considered to be a major consolidation of global anime distribution rights outside of East Asia.[8][61] However, on March 24, 2021, it was reported that the United States Department of Justice had extended its antitrust review of the acquisition.[62]

The Anime Awards

The Anime Awards, also known as the Crunchyroll Anime Awards, are annual awards given to recognize anime from the previous year. The awards were first held in January 2017 and returned for 2018. Crunchyroll selects twenty judges from diverse backgrounds who then create a list of six nominees within each category. This list is then made available to the public for online voting to choose the winners.[63]

Crunchyroll Expo

The Crunchyroll Store at Crunchyroll Expo 2017

In February 2017, Crunchyroll created the Crunchyroll Expo (CRX) anime convention with organizational support from Left Field Media.[64] The inaugural Expo was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center on August 25–27, with team manager Dallas Middaugh noting much of the ticket sales came within ten days of the convention.[65] Special guests for the Expo included The Fairly OddParents creator Butch Hartman, voice actors Shun Horie and Hiromi Igarashi, illustrator Yoshitaka Amano, figure skater Johnny Weir, manga artist Kore Yamazaki, and author Keiichi Sigsawa.[66][67]

The Expo was moved to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in 2018 on Labor Day weekend. The convention saw 45,000 in turnstile attendance. Among the guests for the convention were Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii, voice actors Ryo Horikawa, Justin Briner, Luci Christian, Clifford Chapin and Colleen Clinkenbeard, and the staff of Darling in the Franxx.[68]

Crunchyroll Expo 2019, also in San Jose, saw the premieres of the movie Blackfox and the Mob Psycho 100 II original video animation, while Toei Animation organized a screening of the movies Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku and Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn.[69][70] Among the guests invited were horror mangaka Junji Ito;[71] 22/7 voice actors Sally Amaki, Kanae Shirosawa, and Ruri Umino;[72] Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma writer Yūto Tsukuda and artist Shun Saeki;[73] and staff members of Zombie Land Saga, including voice actors Kaede Hondo and Asami Tano, composer Yasuharu Takanashi, and MAPPA CEO Manabu Ohtsuka.[74] Rock band Flow, whose songs have been featured in various anime as opening themes, held a concert on August 30.[75]

In 2020, Crunchyroll held its first virtual expo due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event includes Hime's Cosplay Cup on September 5, 2020. Special guests included Shusuke Katagiri, Myth & Roid, Rian Tachibana, and Matt Schley.[76][77][78]

Crunchyroll Originals

On February 25, 2020, Crunchyroll initially announced several series under its Crunchyroll Originals label.[79] These are anime or other animated series that are either co-produced or directly produced by the company. Crunchyroll previously co-produced anime titles before, but this list will only include those that Crunchyroll themselves officially place under the label.

So far, these series include:

Title First run start date First run end date Episodes Notes Animation Studio
In/Spectre January 11, 2020March 28, 2020 12 Adaptation of novel series written by Kyo Shirodaira. Brain's Base
Tower of God April 1, 2020June 24, 2020 13 Adaptation of webtoon by SIU. Telecom Animation Film
The God of High School July 6, 2020September 28, 2020 13 Adaptation of webtoon by Yongje Park. MAPPA
Gibiate July 15, 2020September 30, 2020 12 Original work created by Ryō Aoki. Lunch Box
Studio Elle
Tonikawa: Over the Moon for You October 3, 2020December 19, 2020 12 Adaptation of manga by Kenjiro Hata. Seven Arcs
Noblesse October 7, 2020December 30, 2020 13 Adaptation of webtoon written by Son Jeho and illustrated by Lee Kwangsu. Production I.G
Onyx Equinox November 21, 2020December 26, 2020 12 Original work created by Sofia Alexander. Crunchyroll Studios
So I'm A Spider, So What? January 8, 2021July 3, 2021 24 Adaptation of light novel series written by Okina Baba and illustrated by Tsukasa Kiryu. Millepensee
Dr. Ramune Mysterious Disease Specialist January 10, 2021March 28, 2021 12 Adaptation of manga series written by Aho Toro. Platinum Vision
Ex-Arm January 11, 2021March 29, 2021 12 Adaptation of manga written by HiRock and illustrated by Shinya Komi. Visual Flight
Fena: Pirate Princess[80] August 15, 2021TBA 12 Original work by Kazuto Nakazawa and Production I.G. Co-production with Adult Swim. Production I.G
Blade Runner: Black Lotus[81] Q4 2021TBA 13 Original work based on the Blade Runner franchise. Co-production with Adult Swim. Sola Digital Arts
FreakAngels TBATBA TBA Adaptation of webcomic written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Paul Duffield. Crunchyroll Studios
High Guardian Spice TBATBA TBA Original work created by Raye Rodriguez. Crunchyroll Studios
Meiji Gekken: Swords & Guns TBATBA TBA Original work; working title. Crunchyroll Studios

See also

  • List of anime releases made concurrently in the United States and Japan

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