While wildly popular with a very specific crowd of people with expendable incomes, anime (Japanese-style animation) isn’t a subject you’d immediately think of as a growing business opportunity in the U.S. — at least until the last few years.
Crunchyroll, a streaming video service for anime lovers, confirmed today that media company Chernin Group has both noticed the potential for business growth and taken a majority stake in the startup. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Chernin was said to have spent somewhere under $100 million for the stake when rumors first surfaced back in October.
Chernin has made strategic investments in plenty of hot digital media companies in the past, including Pandora, Flipboard, Tumblr, and others. At one point it was also rumored to be in the running to purchase Hulu before Hulu’s owners pulled the plug on the deal. Its newly purchased stake in Crunchyroll is interesting because the startup has not only created one of the most popular (and legal) services for watching anime, but it’s also selling related products to its subscribers — a model Amazon has yet to fully embrace via its Prime Instant Video service.
As for the deal, Crunchyroll’s senior management will still maintain a significant stake in the company as will existing investor TV TOKYO, according to the company.