Crunchyroll, the anime streaming-service division of WarnerMedia’s Otter Media and VIZ Media Europe Group announced earlier month that an agreement has been signed between the two companies to unite VIZ Media Europe Group’s distributors, licenses, and partners together with Crunchyroll’s global platform of more than 50 million users. As a result of the newly announced agreement, VIZ Media Europe Group’s majority investor is now Crunchyroll.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The agreement will bring together Crunchyroll’s global streaming platform with Viz Media Europe Group’s network of partners, distributors and licensees. Japanese publishing and media company the Hitotsubashi Group — which comprises Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions — will retain a minority stake in Viz Media Europe. Closing of the deal is contingent on certain conditions including required antitrust clearances.
Viz Media supplies European broadcasters and streaming platforms with around 40,000 hours of anime programming and also distributes theatrically as well as publishes manage and operates a number of anime digital networks.
“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, the General Manager at Crunchyroll, in a statement released Friday. “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.”
Currently, about 60% of Crunchyroll’s revenue comes from North America. It’s looking to shift that to 50-50 between North America and the rest of the world in the next couple of years.
Founded in 2006, Crunchyroll became a wholly owned part of Otter Media — now housed within AT&T’s WarnerMedia Entertainment group — after the telco bought out the Chernin Group’s majority stake in Otter last year.
With over 50 million users and 2 million subscribers, Crunchyroll provides fans a platform for connection through a massive collection of anime, including titles like Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Super, and Naruto Shippuden.
The Crunchyroll app on cell phones, game consoles, and other streaming devices allows users to access content from leading studios translated into multiple languages. The app offers both a free service as well as a pay-for-premium option that eliminates adverts and early access to new content immediately after it is initially broadcast.
Other ventures include events such as the Anime Awards and the Crunchyroll Expo and licensed merchandise. Crunchyroll is a subsidiary of the WarnerMedia company Otter Media.
The VIZ Media Europe Group focuses on developing, distribution, and marketing of anime and manga throughout Europe, Africa, and Middle East markets. The company handles home video releases, graphic novels, and licensed products for some of the most popular manga and anime properties, including Bleach, My Hero Academia, One-Punch Man, Death Note, and Yo-Kai Watch.
VIZ Media Europe Group is owned by three Japanese companies that specialize in the creation, publication, and licensing of some of the most popular anime and manga properties: Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd.
Viz Media Europe Group is comprised of Viz Media Europe (VME), AV Visionen, Anime Versand and Viz Media Switzerland (VMS), The company supplies content to TV broadcasters and VOD platforms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Viz Media Europe Group has distributed more than 40,000 hours of animation in over 100 countries. It launched the Anime on Demand (AoD) service in 2007 as the first legal streaming platform in Germany for anime and operates Anime Digital Network (ADN), in partnership with Média-Participations, a French platform dedicated to anime.
In addition, Viz Media Europe Group provides theatrical distribution for anime films in Europe and event screenings (Kazé Anime Night) in German-speaking territories. In addition, Viz Media Europe manages consumer product licensing, brand management and retail development for all categories in EMEA, and has manga publishing and DVD home entertainment distribution.