• Sony Pictures has acquired Crunchyroll from telecom giant AT&T for $1.175 billion
  • Crunchyroll will be combined with Sony’s Funimation venture following the acquisition
  • The CEO of Sony Pictures said they are creating a “unified anime subscription experience” moving forward

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has officially acquired Crunchyroll after closing a deal with its former owner, telecom giant AT&T.

The negotiations between Sony and AT&T came to a close this week after both parties agreed to an acquisition deal amounting to $1.175 billion, Deadline reported Monday.

Following the acquisition, Crunchyroll will be combined with Sony’s Funimation division. Funimation is SPE’s joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment’s Aniplex that focuses on streaming anime content.

Crunchyroll is an American distributor, publisher as well as production and licensing company of anime, manga and dorama (Japanese television drama). Its addition to Funimation is expected to “broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers,” SPE said in a press release.

“We are very excited to welcome Crunchyroll to the Sony Group. Anime is a rapidly growing medium that enthralls and inspires emotion among audiences around the globe. The alignment of Crunchyroll and Funimation will enable us to get even closer to the creators and fans who are the heart of the anime community,” Sony Group Corporation chairman, president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida was quoted as saying in the same press statement.

SPE chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra said in the press release that they are hoping for Crunchyroll to add “tremendous value” to their already existing anime-centric service. He also noted that with the new acquisition, they are more than committed to delivering the “ultimate anime experience” to fans while also presenting new opportunities to their key partners, publishers and talented creators.

Vinciquerra added that their ultimate goal with their Funimation venture is to “create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible” — one that will encompass multiple platforms, including home entertainment, theatrical release, streaming, games, linear TV and events.

Negotiations between SPE and AT&T were first announced in December 2020, around the time when the telecom giant was shopping Crunchyroll around for $1.5 billion.

Now that the deal is complete, AT&T will reportedly use the funds to pay off the debt it has accumulated from its folded streaming venture, as the company has now chosen to focus on its core connectivity business, as per The Verge.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has reportedly launched a probe into the deal involving Crunchyroll to check for potential antitrust violations. The agency wanted to determine whether the deal would give SPE an advantage to monopolize anime streaming, since other companies, such as Netflix, are also investing in anime content lately because viewer demand for anime has spiked amid the pandemic, according to The Information.

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