“Our goal is to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.”TWITTER/@SAADKYUURA

It has been over two weeks since Sony Pictures completed its acquisition of the AT&T owned anime streaming service, Crunchyroll. Sony already owns Funimation, arguably Crunchyroll’s top competitor as an anime direct-to-consumer service, and the company has announced plans to integrate both services into one platform.

It isn’t yet clear exactly how this is going to be achieved. Anime fans have speculated that Sony will move Crunchyroll content onto Funimation, rather than create an entirely new platform. Crunchyroll currently exceeds Funimation content-wise, with a massive 1,200+ titles including East Asian drama. It also has around 80 manga titles, games playable on iOS and Android, and supports fan engagement through events such as Crunchyroll Expo, Anime Awards, and Crunchyroll Movie Nights.

The prospect of improved working conditions for staff under Sony doesn’t seem likely

It seems that Sony is planning to adopt these more unique services. “With the addition of Crunchyroll, we have an unprecedented opportunity to serve anime fans like never before and deliver the anime experience across any platform they choose,” said Sony Chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra, “from theatrical events, home entertainment, games, streaming, linear TV – everywhere and every way fans want to experience their anime.”

“Our goal is to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.”

TWITTER/@ULTIMATEMEGAX

Concerns that this merger is going to lead to a monopoly in the anime streaming industry aren’t at all unfounded – the U.S. Justice Department actually conducted an antitrust review earlier in the year which delayed the completion of the takeover. While the deal was ultimately given the go-ahead, consumers are still voicing their doubts.

Until more information becomes available the fate of employees at both platforms remains uncertain

The biggest concern is for Crunchyroll’s staff. Bringing anime to a global audience relies on subtitling, and Crunchyroll has been under fire for underpaying their translators. The issue received wider attention in fan communities after it was broken down in popular YouTube channel, The Canipa Effect, who calculated that Crunchyroll pay translators $80 per episode for work that would be rated at a $400 per episode minimum in any other genre. The prospect of improved working conditions for staff under Sony doesn’t seem likely. Reviews by Funimation employees on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed show multiple references to inadequate pay and an unmanageable workload.

Ultimately the success of Sony’s deal will come down to their ability to attract paid subscribers. Alejandro Rojas, director of applied analytics for market researcher Parrot Analytics, notes that global anime consumption has nearly doubled since 2017, but distinguishes between subscription renewing ‘super-fans’ and casual viewers who might be content with the anime selection available on titanic streaming giants such as Netflix.


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Until more information becomes available the fate of employees at both platforms remains uncertain. “We know you may have questions!” reads Crunchyroll’s official announcement (09/08). “Today we begin the work of bringing two awesome teams together to bring you more of what you love. Thank you for your trust and support!”