AT&T Selling Crunchyroll To Sony’s Funimation Global For $1.175 Billion

WarneMedia parent AT&T is selling its Crunchyroll anime business to Funimation Global Group — a venture of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment, for $1.175 billion in cash.

Fast-growing Crunchyroll is a premier anime direct-to-consumer service within AT&T’s WarnerMedia segment with over 3 million SVOD subscribers. It serves 90 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories offering AVOD, mobile games, manga, events merchandise and distribution.

The combination of Crunchyroll and Funimation provides the opportunity to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers, the companies said in a statement.

“The Crunchyroll team has done an extraordinary job of not only growing the Crunchyroll brand but also building a passionate community of anime fans. Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans,” said Tony Goncalves, WarnerMedia’s chief revenue officer. “By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people.”

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

“Funimation has been doing this for over 25 years and we look forward to continuing to leverage the power of creativity and technology to succeed in this rapidly growing segment of entertainment,” he said.

Funimation is an independently operated joint venture between U.S.-based Sony Pictures Entertainment and Japan’s Aniplex., a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan. It has nine offices in six countries.

The deal is part of a push by AT&T to sell off assets it considers noncore to help bring down its debt. It recently sold its wireless and wireline operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and its stake in Central European Media. A Wall Street Journal report earlier today said it was in talks to unload DirecTV.

Crunchyroll hit the 3 million subscribers milestone this summer. Founded in 2006, it reached 1 million streaming subscribers in 2016 and then hit the 2 million mark toward the end of 2018. Initially a San Francisco-based online forum for uploaded anime clips and message boards, it has grown to 70 million registered users in 200 countries.

Crunchyroll says it has the world’s largest anime library with more than 1,000 titles and 30,000 episodes. Initially a unit of Otter Media and AT&T, it was shifted last year under the aegis of WarnerMedia, in large part to provide a hub of anime fare to  HBO Max.

Crunchyroll is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, Lausanne, Chisinau, and Berlin (AV Visionen). VRV (U.S.) and Eye See Movies (Germany) are also Crunchyroll brands.

Funimation distributes anime globally via streaming, home entertainment, theatrical, e-commerce, merchandising and live events. Its theatrical division has distributed and marketed 6 of the top 20 anime films in the U.S. The 25-year old company has a catalog over 700 anime series and 13,000+ hours of content available on 15 platforms in 49 countries. It specializes in dubbing of Japanese anime and has in in-house team that designs collectibles.