Years ago, Crunchyroll, the largest anime streaming site, was bought out by Time Warner, though you likely wouldn’t know just going by the site itself since they very rarely advertised other Warner properties (outside of occasionally whatever big movie WB is releasing at the time) and isn’t really advertised anywhere on Warner’s TV channels other than Toonami. Crunchyroll IS a part of HBO Max, but it’s only about a dozen series rather than integrating the entire site. They had a partnership with Funimation where Funi provided dubs while Crunchyroll provided subs, but when Sony bought out Funimation, that relationship ended.
Well, it seems like that relationship may be coming back. The Information is reporting that AT&T has been trying to sell Crunchyroll, with the top bidder being Sony themselves. This would reunite two of the biggest names in the industry (actually three since Aniplex is also owned by Sony) basically making Sony the king of the North American anime market. But it’s not a done deal yet.
The report indicates that COVID has slowed down negotiations somewhat, though the bigger sticking point seems to be that AT&T wants $1.5 billion for Crunchyroll, which is rather amusing. Yes, Crunchyroll only has a few shows fully under its banner, but it’s still viewed by millions of people and is still a titan of the industry, while WB wanted over $2 billion for its Games department which is much less impressive in its output.
If anyone’s curious as to WHY AT&T is selling off so many pieces of Warner Media, it’s because they are $150 million+ in debt, largely due to the purchase of Time Warner/Warner Media in the first place.
Presumably, if this deal does go through, Crunchyroll would no longer be a part of the VRV streaming service. I wouldn’t be surprised if that would be a death knell for VRV and the various channels within owned by Warner Media just get folded into HBO Max.
The three anime series Crunchyroll is partnering up with Toonami for (Blade Runner: Black Lotus, Uzumaki, and Fena: Pirate Princess) would likely be unaffected due to contract stipulations, as would the three other original Toonami shows being made in partnership with Crunchyroll. Personally, it would not surprise if it would be easier for Toonami to get shows like The Rising of a Shield Hero, Konosuba, Tower of God, and God of Highschool from a Sony-owned Crunchyroll than a Warner-owned Crunchyroll, despite Toonami also being owned by Warner.
It also makes one wonder why the hell AT&T would bother buying Time Warner/Warner Media in the first place if they’re just going to sell everything off.