Sony is close to finalizing a deal to buy American anime streaming service Crunchyroll for nearly $ 1 billion, according to a report by Nikkei Asia.
Nikkei Sony said Sony negotiated exclusive rights to bid for the streaming service and its 3 million paid subscribers earlier this year, and the two companies are now “in final negotiations.” Although an asking price is unclear, Nikkei notes that Sony could end up spending “over 100 billion yen” on the company – around $ 957 million.
Crunchyroll is owned by US telecommunications giant AT&T, which has reportedly been looking to offload the streaming service for some time. AT&T is keen to minimize its significant debt, which totals more than $ 150 billion. According to a report by Information, AT&T asked Sony in August to pay $ 1.5 billion for Crunchyroll, but the Japanese firm said the price was too high. AT&T is currently bundling anime content from Crunchyroll into its HBO Max subscription and offering a separate Crunchyroll subscription for $ 8 per month.
From Sony’s perspective, acquiring Crunchyroll would help expand its entertainment offering in a market dominated by streamers like Netflix and Hulu. Anime has emerged as a major front in the battle between streaming services, with companies battling to license popular series and movies (the end result being fragmented access for consumers).
Sony already owns the US anime distributor Funimation, which licenses a number of popular shows such as The attack of the Titans, Fullmetal Alchemist, and A piece. The acquisition of Crunchyroll would help it to develop its catalog even further, by expanding its offer in Japan and abroad as well.