Crunchyroll

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Crunchyroll
Logo for the Crunchyroll service
Logo used since 2018
Type of businessSubsidiary
Type of site
OTT streaming platform
Available in20 languages
List of languages
  • Arabic
  • Catalan
  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Malay
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese
FoundedMay 14, 2006; 17 years ago (2006-05-14)
Headquarters,
U.S.
Country of originUnited States
Area servedWorldwide
OwnerSony Group Corporation
Founder(s)Kun Gao[1][2]
James Lin[1][2]
Brandon Ooi[1]
Vu Nguyen[3][4]
Industry
Products
Services
  • Film production
  • film distribution
  • television production
  • television distribution
ParentCrunchyroll, LLC[a]
URLwww.crunchyroll.com
CommercialYes
RegistrationOptional
UsersIncrease Over 120 million
(13 million paying as of 2024)[5][6]
LaunchedMay 14, 2006; 17 years ago (2006-05-14)
Current statusActive

Crunchyroll is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service owned by Sony Group Corporation.[a] The service primarily distributes films and television series produced by East Asian media, including Japanese anime, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with a Japanese branch located in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Founded in 2006 by a group of University of California, Berkeley, graduates,[7] Crunchyroll delivers content to over 100 million registered users worldwide.[8] Crunchyroll was previously a subsidiary of AT&T/WarnerMedia's Otter Media, and from 2016 to 2018, the company partnered with Funimation, which Sony acquired in 2017 and would eventually merge into its brand in 2022 after Sony acquired Crunchyroll from AT&T in 2021.

Crunchyroll is a member of The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA).[9] "Crunchyroll-Hime", also known as "Hime", is the official mascot of Crunchyroll.[10]

Crunchyroll offers over 1,000 anime shows,[9] more than 200 East Asian dramas in over 18 languages, and formerly offered around 80 manga titles as Crunchyroll Manga, although the number of available shows varies by each country due to licensing restrictions. Crunchyroll passed one million paid subscribers in February 2017,[9][11] and has over 13 million paid subscribers as of 2024.[6] Crunchyroll also releases titles on home video either directly[12] or by having select anime titles released through its distribution partners (Sentai Filmworks, Viz Media, Discotek Media, and its corporate sibling, Aniplex of America in North America; Anime Limited in the United Kingdom).[13][14]

History[edit]

Origins and informal distribution[edit]

The original Crunchyroll logo used from 2006 to 2012

Crunchyroll was first founded in 2006 and was initially a for-profit video upload and streaming site that specialized in hosting East Asian content. Some of the content hosted on Crunchyroll included versions of East Asian shows that had been subtitled by fans.[1][15]

In 2008, Crunchyroll secured a capital investment of $4.05 million from the venture capital firm Venrock.[16] The investment drew criticism from anime distributors and licensors Bandai Entertainment and Funimation as the site continued to allow users to upload unlicensed copies of copyrighted titles.[17]

Move to legal distribution[edit]

Crunchyroll eventually began securing legal distribution agreements with companies, including Gonzo, for a growing list 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 only hosting content to which it had legitimate distribution rights.[18]

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.[19]

On October 30, 2013, Crunchyroll began digitally distributing 12 different manga titles from Kodansha through Crunchyroll Manga, including Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail.[20]

Chernin Group ownership[edit]

On December 2, 2013, The Chernin Group (the holding company of former News Corp. president Peter Chernin) announced that it had acquired a controlling interest in Crunchyroll for a reported $100 million.[21] The Chernin Group said that Crunchyroll management and existing investor TV Tokyo would maintain a "significant" stake in the company.[22][23]

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.[24] The new company was named Otter Media and became the majority owner of Crunchyroll.[25] On August 3, 2015, Variety reported that Otter Media would unveil Ellation, a new umbrella company for its subscription-based video services, including Crunchyroll.[26] 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."[27]

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.[28]

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.[29]

Funimation partnership, and home video expansion[edit]

On July 1, 2016, Crunchyroll announced plans to dub and release a number of series on home video.[30] On September 8, 2016, Crunchyroll announced a partnership with Funimation. Crunchyroll would stream select Funimation titles, while Funimation would stream select Crunchyroll titles as well as their upcoming dubbed content. In addition, Funimation would act as the distributor for Crunchyroll's home video catalog.[31]

On February 9, 2017, Crunchyroll announced that it had reached one million paid subscribers.[9][11] On March 22, 2017, Kun Gao took over as representative director of its Japanese branch, succeeding Vincent Shortino.[32] On March 30, 2017, Crunchyroll began to distribute anime through Steam.[33][34] On November 4, 2017, a group of hackers managed to hijack the official site for almost six hours. Users were redirected to a fake lookalike site that prompted them to download ransomware under the guise of "CrunchyViewer". Crunchyroll filed a first information report against the hackers.[35] On July 18, 2017, Crunchyroll began collaborating with the video-streaming platform Twitch.[36]

AT&T/WarnerMedia ownership and internal productions[edit]

In January 2018, Otter Media bought the remaining shares (20%) of Crunchyroll from TV Tokyo and other investors.[37] In August 2018, AT&T acquired the remainder of Otter Media that it did not already own from The Chernin Group; the company and Crunchyroll were thus folded under WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner, which AT&T had also recently acquired).[38] In August 2018, the service announced an expansion into original content with the anime-inspired series High Guardian Spice, produced by Ellation Studios.[39] 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.[40]

On March 4, 2019, it was announced that Otter Media would be placed under Warner Bros. as part of their reorganization efforts. 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 broadcast anime under the Toonami brand.[41] 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.[42]

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.[43] 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.[44] On September 6, 2019, Crunchyroll announced that they had become the majority investor in Viz Media Europe.[45] Crunchyroll solidified this deal on December 4, 2019, becoming the majority owners of Viz Media Europe Group and appointing former Viz Media Europe president John Easum as Head.[46] It was later rebranded as Crunchyroll EMEA, with former Viz Media Europe brands becoming Crunchyroll brands.[47][48]

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.[49] 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.[50]

On September 5, 2020, Crunchyroll announced that they had entered into 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.[51]

Sony ownership[edit]

On August 12, 2020, The Information reported that Sony Pictures Entertainment, Funimation's parent company, was in talks to acquire Crunchyroll from WarnerMedia (later spun out by AT&T and merged with Discovery, Inc. to form Warner Bros. Discovery) for US$1.5 billion.[52] According to Variety, the amount was decreased to US$1 billion.[53] 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 (2020) (US$936.55 million).[54] 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 was considered to be a major consolidation of global anime distribution rights outside of East Asia.[55][56] However, on March 24, 2021, it was reported that the United States Department of Justice had extended its antitrust review of the acquisition.[57]

On August 9, 2021, Sony announced that it had completed its acquisition of Crunchyroll. Following the acquisition, Sony stated that they wanted to create a unified anime subscription experience using their existing anime businesses as soon as possible.[58] Crunchyroll confirmed four days later that VRV was included in the acquisition.[59] On September 23, 2021, Crunchyroll announced that they had entered into a partnership deal with Fuji TV for anime content development and production. The partners planned to start work on the new slate in April 2022 with anime-focused developer and producer Slow Curve.[60][61]

On March 1, 2022, it was announced that the Funimation, Wakanim, and VRV SVOD services would be consolidated into Crunchyroll. Additionally, Funimation Global Group, LLC, would be renamed and merged into Crunchyroll, LLC, with the Funimation brand currently in the process of being phased out in favor of Crunchyroll.[62][63] On that same day, March 13, Crunchyroll would start adding new anime titles, including Hindi or Indian English subs and dubs for India.[64][65][66] In the wake of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, Crunchyroll and Wakanim announced that they would suspend their services in Russia as of March 11.[67] Its parent company, Sony, donated $2 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.[68]

On March 16, 2022, it was announced that Funimation's home video releases would be distributed under the Crunchyroll banner, with the latter's logo replacing that of the former on the spine and back of the covers for each new release that comes out, starting with its June 2022 slate.[12] On March 24, 2022, Crunchyroll announced that starting with the Spring 2022 season, a subscription would be required to watch new and continued simulcasts, with older titles featured on the site prior to this season remaining free to watch. It was also announced that the first three episodes of select titles would be free a week after their premiere until May 31.[69][70]

On April 5, 2022, the company announced that Funimation's YouTube channel had been rebranded as Crunchyroll Dubs and that it would serve as Crunchyroll's channel for English-dubbed content, while English-subtitled content would continue to be uploaded on their Crunchyroll Collection channel.[71] The company also stated that they would release an English-dubbed first episode of an anime series every Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET on the Crunchyroll Dubs YouTube channel, starting with Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World on April 9, 2022. Three days later, Crunchyroll announced that the Funimation Shop would be moved to the Crunchyroll Store.[72] On November 2, 2022, Crunchyroll collaborated with the instant messaging social platform Discord. The integration allows Crunchyroll users to link their accounts and display the movie or show they are currently watching on their Discord profile.[73]

On March 1, 2023, it was reported Crunchyroll received a dedicated button on new Sony Bravia TVs remotes.[74] On May 15, 2023, Crunchyroll partnered with the language learning app Duolingo to help users learn Japanese via anime.[75]

On February 16, 2024, Crunchyroll launched its official weekly podcast Crunchyroll Presents: The Anime Effect on all major audio streaming platforms made to discuss anime and its impact on worldwide popular culture.[76] Throughout February 2024, Crunchyroll launched its application for LG and Samsung Smart TVs globally.[77]

Programming[edit]

Original programming[edit]

On February 25, 2020, Crunchyroll initially announced seven series under its Crunchyroll Originals label.[78] These are anime or other animated series that are either co-produced or directly produced by the company. While Crunchyroll previously co-produced anime titles, this list only includes those that Crunchyroll themselves officially place under the label. Following Sony's acquisition of Crunchyroll, the brand was quietly discontinued alongside the closure of the in-house production studios.[79][80]

Series released under the "Crunchyroll Originals" label included:

Title First run start date First run end date Episodes Notes Animation Studio
In/Spectre January 11, 2020 March 28, 2020 12 Adaptation of novel series written by Kyo Shirodaira. Brain's Base
Tower of God April 1, 2020 June 24, 2020 13 Adaptation of webtoon by SIU. Telecom Animation Film
The God of High School July 6, 2020 September 28, 2020 13 Adaptation of webtoon by Yongje Park. MAPPA
Gibiate July 15, 2020 September 30, 2020 12 Original work created by Ryō Aoki. Lunch Box
Studio Elle
Tonikawa: Over the Moon for You October 3, 2020 December 19, 2020 12 Adaptation of manga by Kenjiro Hata. Seven Arcs
Noblesse October 7, 2020 December 30, 2020 13 Adaptation of webtoon written by Son Jeho and illustrated by Lee Kwangsu. Production I.G
Onyx Equinox November 21, 2020 December 26, 2020 12 Original work created by Sofia Alexander. Crunchyroll Studios
So I'm A Spider, So What? January 8, 2021 July 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, 2021 March 28, 2021 12 Adaptation of manga series written by Aho Toro. Platinum Vision
Ex-Arm January 11, 2021 March 29, 2021 12 Adaptation of manga written by HiRock and illustrated by Shinya Komi. Visual Flight
Fena: Pirate Princess[81] August 15, 2021 October 24, 2021 12 Original work by Kazuto Nakazawa and Production I.G. Co-production with Adult Swim. Production I.G
High Guardian Spice October 26, 2021[82] October 26, 2021 12 Original work created by Raye Rodriguez. Crunchyroll Studios
Blade Runner: Black Lotus[83] November 14, 2021 February 6, 2022 13 Original work based on the Blade Runner franchise. Co-production with Adult Swim. Sola Digital Arts
FreakAngels January 27, 2022[82] January 27, 2022 9 Adaptation of webcomic written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Paul Duffield. Crunchyroll Studios
Shenmue: The Animation[84] February 6, 2022 May 1, 2022 13 Adaptation of the Shenmue video game series by Yu Suzuki. Co-production with Adult Swim. Telecom Animation Film
Meiji Gekken: 1874 January 14, 2024 March 24, 2024 10 Original work created by Tsukasa Sakurai and Naoki Tozuka. Produced under the working title Meiji Gekken: Sword and Gun.[78] Tsumugi Akita Anime Lab

Crunchyroll Channel[edit]

Crunchyroll Channel
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaNationwide
HeadquartersCoppell, Texas
Programming
Language(s)English
Picture format1080p HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480p for older programming)
Ownership
OwnerSony Pictures Entertainment[b]
Aniplex (Sony Music Entertainment Japan)[c]
ParentCrunchyroll, LLC
Game Show Network, LLC
Sister channels
History
LaunchedOctober 11, 2023; 6 months ago (2023-10-11)
Availability
Streaming media
The Roku ChannelChannel 778
LG ChannelsChannel 261
Vizio WatchFree+Channel 775

On October 4, 2023, Sony announced it would launch the Crunchyroll Channel as a free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) network under a partnership between its Crunchyroll and GSN divisions.[85][d] The linear service launched on October 11 for The Roku Channel, LG Channels, and Vizio WatchFree+ platforms. The channel later became available on Amazon Freevee on October 17 and on Pluto TV on February 5, 2024.[86] The initial programming lineup featured Japanese and English versions of anime titles such as Horimiya, Ranking of Kings, Moriarty the Patriot, Psycho-Pass, Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest, Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, To Your Eternity, and Code Geass.[87][88]

Device support and service features[edit]

Crunchyroll is available worldwide (except for parts of Asia, Russia, and Belarus) and can be accessed via an internet browser on PCs, while Crunchyroll apps are available on various platforms, including Blu-ray disc players, mobile devices such as iOS/iPadOS, Android, and Windows Phone, game consoles such as Xbox (Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S), PlayStation (4/5 and PlayStation Vita), and Nintendo (Nintendo Switch). It is also compatible with Windows and macOS operating systems for desktop and laptop devices. Additionally, it is available on Smart TVs made by LG, Samsung and Sony, as well as on media players such as Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Tizen OS, and Android TV and on external players including the Xiaomi Mi Box S and the Nvidia Shield TV, among others. In addition, virtual reality headsets running visionOS are also supported.[89] Furthermore, it is available via Prime Video Channels in the U.S., Canada, Sweden and the U.K., followed by additional territories throughout 2024.[90]

The Anime Awards[edit]

The Crunchyroll Anime Awards are annual awards given to anime from the previous year. The awards were first held in January 2017. 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, who votes online to choose the winners.[91]

Crunchyroll Expo[edit]

The Crunchyroll Store at Crunchyroll Expo 2017

In February 2017, Crunchyroll launched the Crunchyroll Expo (CRX) anime convention with organizational support from Left Field Media.[92] The inaugural Expo was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center on August 25–27, with team manager Dallas Middaugh noting that many of the ticket sales came within ten days of the convention.[93] 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.[94][95]

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, Colleen Clinkenbeard, and the staff of Darling in the Franxx.[96]

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.[97][98] Among the guests invited were horror mangaka Junji Ito;[99] 22/7 voice actors Sally Amaki, Kanae Shirosawa, and Ruri Umino;[100] Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma writer Yūto Tsukuda and artist Shun Saeki;[101] and staff members of Zombie Land Saga, including voice actors Kaede Hondo and Asami Tano, composer Yasuharu Takanashi, and MAPPA CEO Manabu Ohtsuka.[102] Rock band Flow, whose songs have been featured in various anime as opening themes, held a concert on August 30.[103]

In 2020, Crunchyroll held its first virtual expo due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The convention, held on September 5, 2020, included events such as Hime's Cosplay Cup. Special guests included Shusuke Katagiri, Myth & Roid, Rian Tachibana, and Matt Schley.[104][105][106]

In 2022, Crunchyroll Expo opened its new music festival. Hololive Production VTubers (including Hakos Baelz, Kureiji Ollie, Watson Amelia, Gawr Gura, Ninomae Ina'nis, and Takanashi Kiara) were present as guests for the 2022 convention. The event was held in Melbourne, Australia, on September 17–18, and had queuing and capacity issues.[107]

On February 2, 2023, six months after announcing the dates and location, Crunchyroll revealed that its 2023 flagship event in San Jose would be cancelled in an effort to "focus on attending a growing roster of expos and festivals around the world".[108]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Crunchyroll, LLC operates but does not directly own the brand's namesake OTT streaming platform. Instead, both the company and service are owned by a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment Japan (through Aniplex).
  2. ^ Through its ownerships of Crunchyroll, LLC and Game Show Network, LLC, itself a segment of the Sony Pictures Television Networks division of Sony Pictures Television.
  3. ^ Through its ownership of Crunchyroll, LLC.
  4. ^ Sony owns Crunchyroll, LLC and Game Show Network, LLC through different divisions of the company. Crunchyroll, LLC is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment Japan's Aniplex, while Game Show Network, LLC is owned by the Sony Pictures Television Networks division of Sony Pictures Television.

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External links[edit]