The merger between Funimation and Crunchyroll is not a new development that we are hearing about for the first time. However, there is some fresh information that customers should know regarding the implications of this merger.
Specifically, it was officially announced on February 8th, 2024 that Funimation will be ceasing operations of their standalone app and services on April 2nd.
This means customers who purchased digital copies of anime series on the Funimation app will unfortunately lose access.
Existing Funimation subscribers will have their accounts transferred over to Crunchyroll so they can simply log in with their Funimation credentials.
However, there is a catch – they will have to pay the higher Crunchyroll subscription price of $9.99 per month compared to the $5.99 per month they were paying for Funimation. Moreover, the new billing cycle at the higher rate will commence on April 15th.
Crunchyroll’s Disregard for Redeemed Copies Adds to Customer Frustration
There is an extra problematic dimension to this Funimation shutdown that makes the situation even more difficult for customers.
Specifically, Crunchyroll has explicitly stated that they will not be supporting the digital copies of anime series and movies that were redeemed as part of Funimation Blu-ray/DVD purchases.
To provide some background – Funimation had a model where physical copy purchasers were granted access to stream that title indefinitely as part of their purchase.
However, Crunchyroll’s support page now indicates this will no longer be possible upon migration and the copies will not transfer over at all. They provide no real solutions here and simply state they hope to improve the experience over time.
Understandably, this has further upset Funimation loyalists who now regret not purchasing more physical copies that they could have retained long-term access to.
Some fans argue this weakens the position of these companies in complaining about piracy when they fail to provide seamless and permanent access to purchased content.
Given Crunchyroll’s dominant status in North America, issues like these around the loss of purchased copies combined with the subscription price hike only demotivate fans further from utilizing official platforms.
Navigating Growth and Integration with Funimation
Providing some background, Crunchyroll is a subscription video platform specializing in East Asian media, especially Japanese anime. Headquartered in San Francisco with a major office in Tokyo, it was founded in 2006 by University of California graduates aiming to distribute anime to fans globally.
Over the past 18 years, Crunchyroll has experienced tremendous growth – currently providing licensed access to over 1,000 anime series translated into 18+ languages for an international registered user base surpassing 100 million fans.
Initially an independent company, Crunchyroll has changed ownership a few times – sold to Otter Media in 2014, then entered a partnership with rival anime streamer Funimation in 2018 which Sony acquired the prior year.
Finally, in 2021 parent company Sony acquired Crunchyroll outright for $1.2 billion to merge with Funimation long-term.
Crunchyroll has rapidly evolved from a California startup to the world’s leading legal anime streaming platform under the umbrella of Sony.
Its diverse content library now faces integration with former competitor Funimation – presenting opportunities but also complex challenges, as evidenced by the subscriber impact we’ve covered regarding this strategic shift.
Origin Of Funimation
Funimation has its roots in a business proposition from the early 1990s. Japanese immigrant Gen Fukunaga was approached by his uncle Nagafumi Hori, a producer at the famed anime studio Toei Company.
Hori suggested that if Fukunaga could launch a production company and secure enough financing, Toei would grant him the license to distribute the globally popular Dragon Ball franchise in the United States.
Fukunaga convinced colleague Daniel Cocanougher, whose family owned a feed company in Texas, to sell their business and invest the proceeds into this risky new venture.
With the funds in hand, Fukunaga moved forward and formally established Funimation Productions on May 9, 1994, to acquire Dragon Ball’s US rights from Toei.
In the first few years, Funimation collaborated with various other companies in their efforts to bring Dragon Ball to American television.
After two failed syndication attempts, they finally found a home on Cartoon Network’s Toonami programming block in 1998. Dragon Ball Z soon became Toonami’s highest-rated show driving massive viewership and fascination.
This unexpected success gave Funimation the credibility and financial resources to expand its ambitions—acquiring rights to other coveted anime series over the years that followed.
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