Sony Reportedly In Pole Position To Buy Crunchyroll from AT&T

Crunchyroll subscription join page (pictured above) — currently being shopped around

Anime continues to be a hot content commodity among streaming channels with AT&T in a position to keep its Crunchyroll but instead wanting to sell it.

Among the bidders, Sony is rumored in the first position to make a deal, according to Variety sources.

The Sony angle emerged from a report late last week in Japan’s prestigious Nikkei newspaper. The Nikkei said that talks have advanced sufficiently that Sony now has exclusive negotiating rights on a Crunchyroll purchase. The deal would have a price tag of JPY100 or $960 million at current rates of exchange. That is a significant step down from a $1.5 billion asking price reported by The Information in August.

Sony Wants a Bite of Anime Streamer Crunchyroll (Report) – Variety

We’re surprised that Apple isn’t in the discussion. They could use anime content for Apple TV+, but the only animation we’ve heard mentioned in association with them recently is Peanuts (see: AppleTV+ Streaming The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – Gone From TV Holiday Forever?).

WarnerMedia’s Crunchyroll growing, despite curated hub on HBO Max, maybe DC Universe will enjoy similar autonomy?

Crunchyroll’s free 14-day trial outlines benefits paid subscribers receive

Anime is popular in 2020. Is it bigger from a streaming site subscription than the comic book subscriptions? I don’t know.

We’ve all heard people saying they hate reading, so maybe that has something to do with it. One you can watch that makes you think, the other your read and makes you think. One is clearly more passive than the other.

Also, there are videogames. Anime and videogames go together perhaps even better — because of active audience participation — than comic book adaptations to movie or TV shows. Clearly, Crunchyroll has videogames going for it, too.

I hadn’t considered Crunchyroll — but probably should have — in my DC Universe coverage of how they are being treated during the release of HBO Max getting most of their movie content (see: HBO Max and DC Universe bundle is a good idea – Merging? No, here’s why).

Warnermedia is a hydra with many different businesses, some competing with each other for subscribers. It’s tough when you compete against yourself, but a company as large as their parent AT&T is no doubt going to have some tiger eating their own conflicts.

Their solution on HBO Max for Crunchyroll was to have a curated section, a best of Crunchyroll, which could be an attractive add-on for Max subscribers, but not pull away from Crunchyroll.

This strategy is working.

In an interview with Deadline, Waage declined to speculate on the broader strategy of WarnerMedia in streaming, but she said “the goal is to fuel both” Crunchyroll and HBO Max. “We believe we can grow this area by exposing people to it,” she added. “Dramatic animation is in its infancy … We are Fox 30 years ago with The Simpsons. This is a category that will only grow.”

WarnerMedia’s Crunchyroll Hits 3 Million Streaming Subscribers As Anime Continues To Make Strides – Deadline

With Crunchyroll adding subscribers it’s a different circumstance than DC Universe which might be holding even or losing paid subscribers based on the wide amount of negative publicity we’ve seen.

The difference is HBO Max has what DCU subscribers feel is more and better movie and TV content than DCU. A lot of the people seem to be heading to HBO Max for the movie and TV content and don’t see the value in keeping DCU.

Frustrating that the comic books aren’t being considered, but it isn’t a curated DCU comic books — which would have been a cool idea had HBO Max done that — instead they basically gutted DCU of the bulk of the movies they had.

Still, I’m reminded that DC Universe have like 24,000+ DC Comics. They have an active community around the comics and it’s more than just the animated movies, live action and TV shows.

I can see subscribers who want DC movies and TV shows only and don’t care as much about comics might find paying for a DC Universe subscription less desirable.

As for Crunchyroll? I know almost nothing about their site except that they do anime. I like anime but it’s not something I’d put in my top five genres of movies. I’ve seen some absolutely killer anime and have covered some anime here at this blog.

What I don’t understand, and maybe this is something a reader can help me with is why isn’t there as much excitement around comics? There are anime comics, so is that niche all self-contained and doesn’t carry over to the big companies DC and Marvel?

Maybe HBO Max should rethink how they do the DC Universe section of HBO Max and include a “best of” curated comics for HBO Max subscribers? This would be a great tie-in for HBO Max subscribers buying a subscription to DCU.

It just seems strange to me that HBO Max took two different strategies with how they handled Crunchyroll and DCU. The former is working and driving new subscribers whiel the latter is driving anger and frustration. At least from a segment of the subscriber base, those of us who see the value in the comic books aren’t as upset about the circumstance.

I think the biggest problem with WarnerMedia is communication. They haven’t communicated to their paid customers what they want to do with DCU. The sooner they can make their intentions known there the better. Are they leaving DCU to run the way it is? Are they closing DCU? Merging it entirely with HBO Max? Making DCU a comics-only subscription portal? Customers deserve to know what’s going on.

At least Crunchyroll subscribers know where they stand. Business is good there.