Funimation and Crunchyroll have announced a very unexpected but welcome partnership deal that giving even more to the fans.
Funimation and Crunchyroll announced on September 8, 2016 that they will be working together to share their various streaming titles in the U.S. and Canada. Including both simulcasts and catalogue shows for their viewers to enjoy in dub and sub. They will also be collaborating to release Crunchyroll’s titles on home video as well.
Crunchyroll’s FAQ states this isn’t a merger but simply a distribution partnership where they will still be separate companies. As well, Funimation‘s subbed anime will gradually move over to Crunchyroll in the coming weeks. As Crunchyroll becomes the primary site for subbed anime while Funimation is the go-to place for dubs.
Funimation will also be reducing their plan options from two to one. Creating FunimationNow Premium, allowing access to their content for the lower price of $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
Streaming and Broadcast Dub Plans
Starting with the Fall 2016 season, simulcasts of anime with English subtitles will be on Crunchyroll. While Funimation will be creating Broadcast Dubs for many of these shows, to be available on their FunimationNow service.
Funimation titles already on Crunchyroll include current simulcasts D.Gray-man HALLOW, First Love Monster, Puzzle & Dragons X and catalogue titles Cowboy Bebop, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, and Psycho Pass.
Whilst Crunchyroll titles Free! -Iwatobi Swim Club and The Testament of Sister New Devil will be coming to Funimation’s streaming service in the coming weeks with dubs included. Crunchyroll’s titles from the Summer 2016 season are also receiving broadcast dubs with 91 Days, Mob Psycho 100, and Orange among them.
Gen Fukunaga, CEO and president of Funimation, stated that the decision about which of Crunchyroll‘s titles will get an dub is “primarily being driven by Funimation,” but the two companies meet every week to talk about titles. Fukunaga also noted that Funimation has already expanded its budget for dub production in order to meet the increased workload, and said regarding the future of FunimationNow, “FunimationNow will be the home for the dubs — we’re focusing on simuldubs, to get those out much faster, closer to Japanese broadcast.”
Home Video Distribution for Crunchyroll titles
Furthermore, Funimation will distribute Crunchyroll’s titles on home video and various online outlets, with both dubbed and subtitled versions. Titles include Ace Attorney, Alderamin on the Sky, Bungo Stray Dogs, JOKER GAME, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress & ReLIFE with more to be announced.
Crunchyroll previously announced plans at Anime Expo 2016 to release Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress along with Twin Star Exorcists, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Myriad Colors Phantom World, Big Order, & Gintama on home video with dubs. According to Funimation, Crunchyroll began the production process on these titles, and they are reviewing them based on licensor approval & their production and release schedule, but they have not yet been officially confirmed as part of the partnership.
How This Partnership Between Funimation and Crunchyroll Began
Anime News Network conducted interviews with Funimation and Crunchyroll founders Gen Fukunaga and Kun Gao on this news. Revealing this development started out when the two met in June at a conference and started discussions about working together. Gao stated that Crunchyroll wanted to build “the best fan experience” with the company’s goal to simulcast every anime. “We’re getting closer to that goal every quarter, but it’s challenging,” Gao stated. “Funimation runs a great service and they get a ton of great titles as well – each season, fans had to make a choice, or subscribe to both services. It wasn’t an optimal fan experience, for simulcasts.”
Fukunaga noted “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.” He added, “working together can provide a better experience … that really works for the fans.”
Fukunaga also said that the two companies are working together during the acquisition process for new titles, adding “when we talk every week about the titles we’re acquiring, we’re learning from each other.” Gao also said regarding monetization of the collaboration titles, “This partnership means that together, we can more broadly monetize these rights, in more ways … not just simulcasts, but broadcast dubs, TV, EST, home video, merchandise, across the entire spectrum of rights in each property that we’ve both wanted to optimize in the past, and now together we can. [Licensors will] see even more returns from their properties when they work with Crunchyroll and Funimation together.”
Final Words from the CEOs
“Crunchyroll is a leading destination for fans to watch anime content,” says Gen Fukunaga, Founder and CEO of Funimation. “Our commitment is first and foremost to our fans — and by partnering with Crunchyroll, together we can expand the reach of anime by making shows available to an even larger audience around the world. Funimation will continue to be the best place for fans to experience dubbed content while we also work with Crunchyroll to grow the market for anime. This is a thrilling next step for both companies.”
“Gen is a true pioneer in anime distribution in North America, and has been growing the reach of anime for over twenty years,” says Kun Gao, Founder and General Manager of Crunchyroll. “Funimation shares our passion of bringing amazing content to viewers. This partnership will allow Crunchyroll to continue making the best subtitled simulcast experience for all fans. Anime is a lifestyle experience shared by millions, and we look forward to new ways to delight fans together.”
What Could It All Mean?
This move is unprecedented, changing the industry massively with two of the biggest rivals in anime joining forces. With moves into the anime streaming business by Netflix & Amazon, this development seems to be brought on by competition. Creating a monopoly in the marketplace where the vast amount of anime can only be found on Funimation and Crunchyroll.
The restriction on just the U.S. and Canada is also something to speculate on with how far this deal could extend worldwide. Could an international streaming service like AnimeLab in Australia, who commonly sub-licences shows from Funimation, be able to stream Crunchyroll shows? Could Funimation and Crunchyroll expand the reach of this deal across the world in the future? There’s so many possibilities.
How this deal will affect fellow companies like Aniplex of America, Sentai Filmworks or Viz Media remains to be seen. As the majority of Sentai’s catalogue is available to stream on Crunchyroll. Whilst Aniplex shared streaming rights for some of their shows (ERASED, Durarara x2 etc.) with both Funimation and Crunchyroll. They may still hold the home video rights to their respective shows. But one of the primary streaming services they use teaming up with their rival is a huge development that could change things for them.
So what do you think of this news? Are you happy to see these anime streaming giants join forces? Excited to see all these new English dubs? Or to see how much further this partnership could expand in the future? Let us know in the comments.