Funimation Loses the Steaming Wars?

Funimation Loses the Steaming Wars?

Crunchy Roll’s San Francisco office.

When Sony (the long-time owner of Funimation) bought off Crunchy Roll off of the wounded giant Warner Brothers, I and pretty much everyone else figured that was the end of Crunchy Roll.

Not without reason.

“Crunchy Roll 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.

Everybody figured that since Funimation was Sony’s brand to start with it would be Crunchy Roll that went bye-bye. But that is not the case. It’s the Funimation brand that is being phased out. I was surprised by that, Sony is a conservative company and probably had things organized how they like at Funimation.

However, since Sony is a conservative company the one thing they don’t like is drama, which Funimation has had plenty of lately. However, since Crunchy Roll is so disorganized I would guess that the only change at Funimation is going to be the name on the building. And indeed Crunchy Roll will vanish in all but name.

Okay, I’m done here.

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