Warner Media Sells Crunchy Roll

Warner Media Sells Crunchy Roll

Sony just became the Anime monopoly. *

It’s not quite in stone yet but it’s close.  According to Nikkei; Warner Media’s asking price of $957 billion has been agreed to by Sony.  which is roughly the amount that Sony’s, Demon Slayer movie has grossed at the box-office.  COVID hasn’t been a disaster for everyone.


Crunchy Roll was founded in 2006 in San Francisco.  It’s headquarters still there…for the moment.

I can’t imagine what this “office space” must cost in San Francisco.
But I doubt if Sony will be willing to keep paying it.

It started life as the Napster of Anime.  Anyone was allowed to upload any Anime content they had, whether or not they had anything that even approached a legal right to so.  Crunchyroll made enough money that in 2009 it went legit and announced they were only going to eliminate all content that had been illegally uploaded.

In 2013, the Chemin Group announced it had gained a controlling interest in CR for $100 million.  Not a bad asking price for a seven-year-old company named after a sushi roll.  A few months later AT&T moved in on the action big time with an investment of $500 million in infrastructure and titles.  Streaming was clearly the way of the future by then.

In 2016 Crunchy Roll announced its partnership with Funimation and they started streaming each other’s content.  Rumor has it that two years later their breakup was quite acrimonious. Sony had bought out Funimation and Crunchy Roll had been rolled into AT&T’s newly acquired Warner Media.

While Crunchy Roll wasn’t exactly a Crown Jewel, it was definitely in the Royal Regalia. It was a valued asset. Anime has NOT been getting smaller with time.  The Zoomers are very much into it, which means it’s probably a decent market for the next 40 years.

But all of that changed when the plague blew into town.  Survival over the next forty years isn’t a priority when you aren’t sure if you are going to make it past the next earnings call and the last call for AT&T was pretty brutal.  The primary reason there was a crater in the spreadsheet was Warner Media.  While it wasn’t weighed down by idled theme parks, Warner was still costing Ma Bell a lot of money because of stalled films and no, theatrical releases.  It was time to hock the family silverware.  The problem is that Warner didn’t have silverware so much as brassware.  The DC universe is a damaged property. Harry Potter had already been licensed out and Warner just CAN’T sell Bugs Bunny.

Crunchy Roll was a different story.  

There was a buyer that was interested.  Sony will be (whether they like it or not) welding Crunchy Roll on to Funamation. Thus, Sony just gained something close to a monopoly in the Anime theater of the Streaming Wars.  Netflix is the only real competition left, although they are putting some serious resources into it.

However, Sony is (duh) a Japan based company which gives them a considerable edge.  It’s not just who has the most money when it comes to this kind of thing.

Honestly, this is indifferent news. Crunchy Roll and Funamation were both pushing Anime to go Woke, so it’s not like Anime fans are losing some bastion of defiance.  But it does mean that one market is about to be closed to serious competition, which means inefficiencies will shorty make themselves felt. Higher prices for a smaller selection. The good news is that if its Woke anime you aren’t going to want to watch anyway.

See you Monday.

*Provided you don’t count Netflix.

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