Two of the world’s biggest anime powerhouses have joined forces today: WarnerMedia’s Crunchyroll has invested in European anime company VIZ Media Group. The company, a division of Otter Media, has signed a deal that brings together Crunchyroll’s global platform with VIZ’s anime partners, while the Hitotusbashi Group will keep its minority stake in the operation. Closing of the transaction will occur once closing conditions have been satisfied, including the receipt of required antitrust clearances.
Crunchyroll, which was founded in 2006 as an anime-sharing platform, has grown to attract a community of more than 50 million registered users through a variety of 360° content experiences including:
- Streaming Video – Fans can choose between subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) and advertising-based-video-on-demand (AVOD) services; Crunchyroll’s two million paying subscribers spend an average of 85 minutes per day streaming. Crunchyroll streams more than 1000 licensed anime titles across devices, professionally translated into eight languages. Original content, largely from Crunchyroll’s studios in Tokyo and Los Angeles, will be joining the collection soon.
- Events – Through participation in more than 180 events across 18 countries, Crunchyroll engages with an estimated 21 million anime fans globally each year. In addition, Crunchyroll hosts two marquee events annually, Crunchyroll Expo and the Anime Awards.
- Consumer Products – Crunchyroll creates and sells a wide variety of anime products through more than 100 merchandising partners and their direct-to-consumer Crunchyroll Store. More than 2000 SKU’s are currently available online for purchase in the Crunchyroll Store.
- Games – Crunchyroll Games is a game publisher working on a growing collection of anime-based experiences for fans; four mobile games are currently available.
- Manga – Fans can download the Crunchyroll Manga app on mobile devices, with new titles updated regularly.
VIZ Media Europe Group, comprised of VIZ Media Europe (VME), AV Visionen, Anime Versand and VIZ Media Switzerland (VMS), is an established licensor and distributor of Japanese content for the EMEA region, bringing fans a variety of 360° experiences, including:
- Content Distribution – VME and VMS are the content suppliers for EMEA TV broadcasters and VOD platforms. More than 40,000 hours of animation of all ages have been distributed in 100+ countries.
- Theatrical Distribution – Regular anime rendezvous at theaters in Europe and successful event screenings (Kazé Anime Night) in German-speaking territories.
- Consumer Products – Licensing, brand management and retail development for all categories in EMEA.
- Manga Publishing – VME and VMS started successfully under the brand Kazé Manga in 2010 in French Speaking Europe and in 2012 in German-speaking Europe.
- DVD Home Entertainment – VIZ Media Europe Group’s robust home video capabilities span across France (through Kazé), Germany (through AV Visionen), and German-speaking Europe including Scandinavia and Eastern Europe (through VIZ Media Switzerland).
- Streaming Video – Anime on Demand (AoD) launched in 2007 as the first legal streaming platform in Germany for anime with nearly 5000 episodes and films available. Launched in 2013, Anime Digital Network (ADN), in partnership with Média-Participations, is a French platform dedicated to anime, with more than 6000 episodes and films available.
“Crunchyroll and VIZ Media Europe Group will bring together significant expertise, capabilities, and dedication to grow and promote our respective licensed and original content,” said Joanne Waage, general manager of Crunchyroll. “We look forward to learning from and collaborating with our new colleagues in Paris, Lausanne and Berlin, so we can continuously create the most engaging experiences for anime and manga communities around the world.”
“We have built a large network in EMEA and beyond, expanding our manga and licensing expertise through multiple skills in various business lines: TV, DVD, Digital & Merchandising,” said Kazuyoshi Takeuchi, CEO of VIZ Media Europe Group. “Over the last decade, our team has shown a deep understanding of Japanese pop culture and adaptation within local markets, and I believe this relationship will strengthen our position and future growth, adapting to changes in the dynamic Japanese animation industry and global business climate.”
“Crunchyroll has helped enable anime to become a mainstay in popular culture, and we are committed to this growing category. This transaction between Crunchyroll and VIZ Media will combine one of the major anime brands ex-Asia with a well-known and beloved manga and anime distributor,” said Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media. “Together, we aim to create connections for passionate anime fans across Europe and beyond.”