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Crunchyroll: Sony’s Anime Market Takeover

At the tail end of 2020, Sony set out to purchase Crunchyroll.

AT&T, Crunchyroll’s owners, wanted to shed debt, and Sony wants to dominate the anime space. It’s a match made in business heaven.

The US government, however, has some questions.

It came out recently that the acquisition has come under antitrust scrutiny. (Update: Sony and Crunchyroll officially announced closure of the deal on August 9th) In a nutshell, the US government wants to make sure that Sony won’t own too much of the anime market. In response, Sony and AT&T are arguing that anime isn’t a distinct market. They’re instead asserting that it’s just one part of a broader range of animation geared toward adults, comparing anime to the likes of The Simpsons.

Discounting the differences in consumer habits, business model, and marketing, the argument does a disservice to the medium. Sony and AT&T are willing to throw anime under the bus to do this deal. It’s a win for both sides, but could be a loss for the consumer.

The initiation of the antitrust inquiry, however, implies that the DoJ does see anime as a distinct market. Assuming that’s true, do they have a case? How much of the market would Sony own by buying Crunchyroll?

Market Share: Crunchyroll & Funimation

2020 Anime Streaming License Market Share. Funimation: 50.85% Crunchyroll: 34.75%

I went through AniChart’s lists of TV anime for 2020 to find the streaming license distribution. I’d initially estimated an 80% market share between both Crunchyroll and Funimation. That turned out to be mostly accurate, if a bit underestimated.

Crunchyroll and Funimation own 85.6% of the 2020 anime market. Sony Pictures would be gaining almost 35% of the market by purchasing Crunchyroll. Factoring in Aniplex of America (owned by a different Sony division than Funimation) the total percentage reaches 92.4%.

(As an aside, Bushiroad’s D4DJ First Mix launched as a non-exclusive license. The series premiered simultaneously on Crunchyroll, Funimation, HIDIVE, and other services.)

These are quick-and-dirty statistics, but they’re eye-opening. A single company owns half of the anime market. The next company in line owns a further 35%. And both of those companies are owned by massive parent companies.

Unless 2020 is a particularly anomalous year in terms of anime licensing, the numbers show that Sony stands to control a massive market share in anime.

Which explains why Sony and AT&T are so quick to compare anime to The Simpsons.

1 comment on “Crunchyroll: Sony’s Anime Market Takeover”

Actually, I’m happy about it
crunchyroll, no matter how is good, at last is a Western company, and I still have not forgotten that they have invested heavily in making woke cartoons like High Guardian Spice.
Sony has been in the anime industry since 1995, making masterpieces such as the “demon slayer”, and is familiar with the industry.
And some people say that the lack of competition reduces the quality of anime, as if they still do not know that crunchyroll only gets the license of anime and does not interfere in their production.
Dirty services like Netflix also any stupid cartoon they make called anime and abuse the anime industry.
If Sony did not buy crunchyroll, in the future crunchyroll would become an woke streaming service.
Also, for those who say that Sony censors anime, they should know that this is a lie and no anime has been censored by Sony.
The censorship only took place in the PlayStation section for games, which is related to another part of Sony’s company and has nothing to do with Aniplex.
Sony has made several Ecchi and Harem anime so far

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