Sony has finalized its acquisition of Crunchyroll from media giant AT&T. As Funimation is already owned by Sony, this will effectively combine the two largest streaming services in North America under one parent company.
As reported previously, the deal between Sony and AT&T is potentially nearing its final stages. Sony already owns localization company Funimation and the acquisition of Crunchyroll would make Sony a major competitor with other anime streaming services such as Netflix.
Sony has been making broad steps to unify its multimedia divisions. With video game publishing, anime publishing, and film publishing, Sony can keep an entire multimedia franchise in house between itself and its subsidiaries.
A few months after the announcement of the intended merger, a United States Antitrust Probe was started against Sony and could have possibly stopped the merger. The results of the antitrust probe are still forthcoming, but Sony has persisted with the merger regardless.
— Funimation (@Funimation) August 9, 2021
Sony’s response to the probe has allegedly been to extoll their competitors Netflix and HIDIVE as examples of how they wouldn’t be gaining any unfair market dominance. Sony has also asked that the Justice Department not distinguish anime from other animation marketed towards adults; this would make Disney+ a potential competitor as it would imply shows like The Simpsons would qualify as a direct competitor in the anime streaming market.
The desire to purchase Crunchyroll and dominate the western anime market comes at a time where Sony’s Computer Entertainment division is reportedly losing their good will in the Japanese market after moving their headquarters to California from Japan. Our video partner Welfare Walrus goes into greater detail about Sony’s estrangement from their domestic market in a recent video which can be found below.
With the merger finished, it seems unlikely that the government is willing to stop the merger between two of the largest anime streaming services.