During the AnimeJapan 2019 festivities on Saturday, Sony Pictures Televisions subsidiary and subbed/dubbed anime content leader Funimation announced with leading Chinese online entertainment platform Bilibili Inc. a partnership to acquire premium Japanese anime IP for global distribution.
Gen Fukunaga, President and Chief Executive Officer of Funimation, and Carly Lee, Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Operating Officer of Bilibili, made the announcement during a live presentation on the AJ Open Stage.
Both parties will jointly acquire anime shows over the next few years. They will seek opportunities to draw upon IP rights in areas such as broadcast TV, VOD, EST, home entertainment, gaming and merchandising in both the U.S. and China, the two largest anime markets outside Japan, as well as the rest of the world. Licensing executives from both Funimation and Bilibili are attending AnimeJapan 2019 for meetings with potential partners.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Bilibili and to start pursuing new anime development and distribution opportunities together,” said Fukunaga. “This collaboration will help drive and serve the global demand for anime, allowing us to not only bring exciting new anime to market but also provide access to fans around the world. In addition, this will enable us to significantly increase our ability to offer Simuldub™ titles day and date with the Japanese broadcast. This is truly a great day for both the industry and anime fans everywhere.”
“As a leading anime and film distribution in Japan, Funimation is an ideal partner for us to promote the globalization of the anime industry. This strategic collaboration supports our overseas vision and strengthens our ability to acquire and monetize quality IP worldwide. We are excited to work with Funimation to bring more premium Japanese anime to the global market,” said Lee.
The Association of Japanese Animations says Japan’s anime industry was worth a record 2.15 trillion yen ($19.4 billion; 130.2 billion RMB) in 2017. This was primarily driven by a 30% increase in overseas sales, i.e., sales from markets outside Japan, which were worth 995 billion yen ($8.9 billion; 59.9 billion RMB). The growth in distribution outside Japan as well as the rising demand for anime-related gaming were key contributors to overseas sales.
AnimeJapan is the largest anime festival in Japan and runs March 23-26 at Big Sight Tokyo.