Streaming and anime enthusiasts, brace yourselves for a significant transformation in the digital anime landscape! Crunchyroll, the popular platform owned by Sony that serves as a haven for anime fans, is slated for a big shake-up. In 2024, Crunchyroll will join forces with Funimation, another anime behemoth that’s also under Sony’s wing. But it isn’t merely a merger—this union brings with it a notable twist that will surely make waves in the anime community.
Starting April 2, 2024, there’s an unexpected twist: all the content that anime lovers purchased on Funimation will no longer be accessible via Crunchyroll! That’s right, any shows or movies you bought on Funimation might as well be considered a distant memory because they’re set to vanish. Needless to say, this bombshell hasn’t sat well with fans, whose outrage has been clear and loud across social media platforms.
But wait, there’s more! Crunchyroll isn’t only absorbing Funimation; it’s also hiking its subscription fee quite significantly. The annual price for enjoying Crunchyroll’s extensive anime offerings is set to soar from $54.95 to a whopping $99.99. That’s almost double the cost! This price hike will kick in from 2025 onwards for those who stay subscribed. Unsurprisingly, many followers of the platform have taken to social media to express their dismay and outright opposition to this steep increase.
A bit of background for the uninitiated: Funimation is a streaming service dedicated to anime that began its journey in 2016, catering mostly to English-speaking audiences. Sony snapped up Funimation in 2017, marking the start of its relationship with the anime streaming scene. The platform has been home to a slew of iconic anime series such as ‘Dragon Ball’, ‘One Piece’, ‘Yu Yu Hakusho’, and ‘Assassination Classroom’, to name just a few. By the time Funimation bids adieu in 2024, it’ll have had a run of eight years.
Switching gears, Crunchyroll kicked off its anime adventure way back in 2006, and unlike its soon-to-be former counterpart, accommodates a global audience. Two years after Sony’s acquisition of Funimation, the tech giant brought Crunchyroll into its fold in 2021. The merger in 2024 symbolizes the fusion of two anime content powers into a single, Sony-backed brand.
North American YouTuber and tech aficionado EposVox weighs in on this development with a poignant message, urging users to invest in content they truly own. This advice touches on the heated debate between the tangibility of physical media versus the ephemeral nature of digital content. EposVox highlighted how digital purchases, though legally owned by the buyer, can be pulled from under their feet due to corporate maneuvers like mergers or shutdowns.
The online buzz features some users labeling the merger as “a joke,” questioning the proclaimed benefits for fans and criticizing the significant subscription price hike. There is also discontent over service changes following the merger, such as Crunchyroll ceasing to allow free watching of seasonal shows—a perk that has now disappeared. The dissatisfied anime community’s voice reflects a sense of betrayal and concern over Crunchyroll being left as the primary streaming service in the market, and them wielding their monopolistic pricing power.
Only time will tell if Crunchyroll will endure any financial repercussions owing to these controversial choices, such as a possible uptick in user cancellations. For the moment, though, it’s evident that Crunchyroll’s standing in the eyes of its user base has taken a hit.
It’s worth noting that despite the outcry over digital content ownership, the digital market continues to eclipse its physical counterpart in terms of revenue. As of 2023, a dominant 95% of video game revenues came from digital sales. This trend is mirrored in significant gaming retail decisions; for instance, the UK branch of the GAME retail chain is contemplating eliminating its pre-owned section, indicating a move toward an all-digital future.
In the face of these currents, consumers and industry watchers alike are holding their breath to see how the Crunchyroll-Funimation saga unfolds. What will this mean for the fans, the industry, and the streaming platforms we’ve grown to rely on for our anime fix? Only time will tell.