Anime is big business here in the U.S., and media firm Chernin Group wants in on it.
Multiple reports are now indicating that Chernin Group has purchased a majority stake in the streaming video service Crunchyroll, a site made popular by providing anime (aka Japanese-style animation) to people here in the U.S. The firm apparently spent a decent chunk of change on the service that now values Crunchyroll at somewhere just under $100 million, according to AllThingsD, which first reported the news.
Crunchyroll is worth paying attention to because its manage to cross the barrier of just selling a video subscription service. The site began life as a community that shared anime that was translated into English subtitles illegally, and eventually legitimized itself by obtaining the proper copyrights.
The service now provides access to content — 15,000 hours of officially licensed programming that’s localized into multiple languages — the same time it airs in Japan for those that sign up for premium subscriptions that cost between $5 to $12 per month. There’s also a free, ad-supported service that offers viewers access to content weeks after its initial premiere. And on top of all that, Crunchyroll sells merchandise related to its content — something Amazon is also hoping to do with its Prime Instant Video service — and launched a digital comic book platform for Manga just yesterday. The company has over 200,000 paying subscribers and its ad-supported service grabs more than 8 million monthly viewers and 127 million monthly views across the world.
Under the deal with Chernin, previous investor TV Tokyo will retain some stake in the company as will Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao, according to ATD’s sources. VentureBeat has reached out to Crunchyroll for comment and will update this post with any new information.