Japanese entertainment content provider Crunchyroll and North American licensor Funimation Entertainment has announced a landmark partnership deal on Thursday (Friday Morning, Manila time) that will enable the two services to cross-stream anime titles from their respective libraries, as well as home video distribution.
Additionally, the deal will enable Crunchyroll to become the official home of subtitled anime, while Funimation will focus more on the broadcast dubs of the most recent anime shows.
As a start, Crunchyroll will now stream some of Funimation’s simulcast titles, like D.Gray-man Hallow, First Love Monster and Puzzle & Dragons X. Some shows in the Funimation library, such as Cowboy Bebop, Psycho Pass and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, will now be available for streaming on Crunchyroll, and more Funimation titles is set to be added to Crunchyroll’s lineup in the coming weeks.
On the other hand, FunimationNow service is set to stream Crunchyroll-exclusive titles Free! Iwatobi Swim Club and The Testament of Sister New Devil in the coming days.
The two won’t embed their own players on their respective websites, instead, they will be using their own video players to play the content and will be doing cross-marketing opportunities to promote the titles.
Meanwhile, FunimationNow will carry the broadcast dub versions, or English-dubbed anime shows streamed within weeks of its Japanese broadcast, of some Crunchyroll titles like 91 Days, Mob Psycho 100, and Orange.
“FunimationNow will be the home for the dubs — we’re focusing on simuldubs, to get those out much faster, closer to Japanese broadcast.” Gen Fukunaga, CEO of Funimation, told Anime News Network, adding that Funimation is spending more on its Broadcast dubbing production capabilities due to the increased workload.
The two companies will also collaborate on subtitled and broadcast dubs for future seasons.
The partnership will also enable Crunchyroll titles to be released on Home Video and Electronic Sell-through (EST) channels, which Funimation will handle.
Some of the planned titles, which will be released with English dubbed audio and English subtitles, include Ace Attorney, Alderamin on the Sky, Bungo Stray Dogs, JOKER GAME, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and ReLIFE.
More titles that will be available for Home Video distribution and EST will be announced by both Funimation and Crunchyroll in the coming weeks.
According to Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao, The two companies met in June and discussed possibilities on a a partnership in creating a “better fan experience”
Fukunaga, on the other hand, added that the intense bidding war for streaming rights for anime shows, largely in part by streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, was one of the main reason why the partnership was created.
“The problem is, the market was fragmenting up a bit – you had other players coming in, [like] Amazon [and] Hulu… The issue with some of those big players is that they’re maybe not as concerned with the fan experience as Crunchyroll and Funimation” Fukunaga said in an interview with ANN.
Despite the partnership, Gao strongly stressed that it is not a prelude to a possible merger, as the two companies will remain separate and distinct from one another.
“We’re still operating our own businesses, as we always have, as standalone businesses… we’re thinking of this primarily as a partnership to grow the fan experience, grow the brand and monetization capabilities for our licensors.” Gao said.
Analyzing the deal, Justin Sevakis, Editor-at-large for ANN, said in his column that the partnership was a understandable reaction to the current market situation while maintaining that it is a “big win for the fans”
“This partnership may last for a decade, or it may last for a single season. But in the mean time, having nearly all of the anime in one place sure is a big win for the fans. (The ones in North America, anyway.)” Sevakis said.
Crunchyroll currently has 700,000 paying subscribers, while offering free streaming for its members with advertisements. It is majority-owned by Otter Media, itself a joint venture between American telco giant AT&T and The Chernin Group, headed by former News Corporation executive Peter Chernin.
Funimation, meanwhile, is an American anime streaming and licensing company created in 1994 and operates its own in-house dubbing studios as well as technology and distribution partnerships. Its streaming service, FunimationNow, debuted this year, replacing its premium mobile service.