Two major anime forces are combining their powers. WarnerMedia-owned streaming service Crunchyroll is going to become a majority investor in manga-anime distributor VIZ Media Europe Group.
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Crunchyroll plans to use this investment to grow its presence in EMEA by using VIZ’s network of animation partners, distributors and licensees of Japanese animation.
VIZ Media Europe Group consists of Paris-headquartered VIZ Media Europe (VME), AV Visionen and Anime Versand (Germany) and VIZ Media Switzerland (VMS). To date, VME and VMS have supplied more than 40,000 hours of all-ages animation, including My Hero Academia and One Piece, to TV and VOD platforms in 100-plus countries across EMEA. Additional VIZ Media Europe Group business spans theatrical distribution, consumer products, manga publishing and DVD home entertainment.
Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Crunchyroll has amassed more than 50 million registered users since launching in 2006. It offers SVOD and AVOD options and a library of more than 1,000 acquired anime titles, including Dragon Ball Super (pictured) and Attack on Titan. New original content, mostly produced at the company’s studios in Tokyo and Los Angeles, is expected to hit the service, too. The company has also expanded its business through games, consumer products (100-plus merchandising partners), apps (Crunchyroll Manga app), events (Crunchyroll Expo and the Anime Awards), social media, news and e-commerce (Crunchyroll Store).
Once antitrust clearances are met and the deal closes at a later date, Japan’s The Hitotsubashi Group will retain a minority stake in VIZ Europe.
Crunchyroll’s ownership stake in VIZ Europe comes as the popularity of anime continues to skyrocket worldwide, especially with streamers like Netflix and Hulu. According to the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), the Japanese anime market reported US$19.8 billion in revenue in 2017 due largely to content deals with US SVOD platforms. Overseas anime sales—including box office, television rights, remake rights, home entertainment sales and merchandising—increased 30% to US$8.81 billion the same year.