Japanese entertainment content provider Crunchyroll has announced in an email to its subscribers on Saturday that they will be increasing its premium membership rates.
A spokesperson of the company has told entertainment industry website Variety that this will be their first price increase ever.
For new subscribers in North America, Australia and New Zealand, the streaming service will increase their monthly premium membership rate from $6.95 to $7.99 starting May 1. The service’s quarterly premium membership will also increase from $19.95 to $22.99, while the annual membership will increase from $59.95 to $79.99.
For new subscribers in the United Kingdom, monthly premium membership rate will increase from, £4.99 to £6.50, while quarterly membership will increase from £13.99 to £18.99, and annual membership will increase from £39.99 to £64.99.
For existing premium members, the rate increase will only be effective after August 2019.
When asked by technology news website Techcrunch regarding the service’s price increase, a spokesperson for the company explains that it’s a part of Crunchyroll’s evolution, from a user-uploaded pirated website to a streaming service that offers legal & official means to watch Japanese content.
“Crunchyroll has the world’s largest collection of anime and we are grateful to have focused on building out such a robust library for over the last decade, without a significant price change in our company history,” the spokesperson said. “However, due to rising costs of content and infrastructure, now is the time to introduce new subscription pricing.”
“This price increase will help us bring our community more of their favorite shows, allowing us to create even more experiences for them to connect with each other and through shared passion for anime,” the spokesperson adds.
Crunchyroll first started in 2006 as a video uploading and streaming service, specializing on East Asian content and “fansubbed” Japanese anime videos.
Since 2009, the company had started securing legal distribution agreements with licensing companies, including giving Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo a share of the company, and eventually removing all copyright-infringing content on the website.
In 2013, The Chernin Group, the holding company of former News Corporation executive Peter Chernin, has acquired controlling interest of the company, and eventually acquired all of the company in January 2018 after buying remaining shares of TV Tokyo.
The Chernin Group has announced a joint venture in 2014 with American telecommunications giant AT&T to invest and launch over-the-top (OTT) services, which became known as Otter Media. The joint venture then launched Ellation, which became an umbrella company for Crunchyroll and VRV.
AT&T bought the remaining stakes of The Chernin Group into Otter Media and was folded into WarnerMedia, which is the new name of TimeWarner after it was officially acquired by the now-American media conglomerate.
Earlier this month, Crunchyroll and its parent company became a part of Warner Bros. as a part of WarnerMedia’s reorganization, joining Cartoon Network and Adult Swim into one division. The company also announced planned synergies for its new Global Kids and Young Adults division of the movie and television studio.