ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Business deals

Sony nears acquisition of US anime streaming service Crunchyroll

Entertainment giant could pay more than $950m as talks wind up with parent AT&T

Sony is close to making an acquisition that will make it a player in the global streaming industry. (Source photos by Nikkei and Crunchyroll website)

TOKYO -- Sony has entered into final negotiations to acquire U.S. anime-streaming service Crunchyroll, Nikkei learned on Friday, a deal that could catapult the Japanese icon into a global battle with the likes of Netflix.

Sony could end up spending more than 100 billion yen ($957 million) on the U.S. streamer, gaining its 70 million members around the world.

Sony has its own popular anime like "Kimetsu no Yaiba" ("Demon Slayer"), but has been licensing it to streaming services. Sony's Aniplex, the studio behind "Kimetsu no Yaiba," has a variety of content, including movies and music, that is mainly distributed by overseas companies.

If the acquisition is realized, global competition for content among companies like Netflix and Hulu will intensify.

Crunchyroll was founded in 2006 and has its headquarters in San Francisco. In 2018, AT&T, the U.S. telecommunications giant, became its parent company.

Sony recently obtained the exclusive right to negotiate for Crunchyroll.

After acquiring Funimation, an anime distributor, in 2017, Sony gained 1 million paying subscribers, mainly in the U.S., but came up against obstacles expanding this customer base.

Crunchyroll has 70 million free members and 3 million paying subscribers in more than 200 countries and regions, including the U.S. and Europe.

Crunchyroll would also give Sony more than 1,000 titles that it can use to vary its offerings.

Sony's total operating income from games, music and movies is forecast to reach $4.79 billion for the fiscal year ending March, accounting for 60% of the group total.

The company once known for Trinitron TVs and Walkman personal stereos has grown into an entertainment colossus that plans to strengthen this side of its business by building on Crunchyroll's membership base.

With the coronavirus convincing people around the world to entertain themselves at home, demand for video distribution services is swelling and competition for popular content is intensifying. Netflix, the largest streamer, is forming alliances with animation studios, while Disney last year took its popular library and began its own streaming service.

According to The Association of Japanese Animations, the global anime market in 2018 was worth about $21 billion, 1.5 times that of five years earlier. The overseas market accounts for nearly half of total demand.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more