Sad news anime fans. Earlier today anime distributor Funimation announced that they had decided to part ways with Crunchyroll, ending the licensing partnership that started 2 years ago. This also meant that Funimation would be leaving the VRV streaming platform on Nov 9th.
The decision by Funimation not to renew the partnership with Crunchyroll, now owned by AT&T after they acquired full stake in Otter Media (Ellation’s parent company), comes from Funimation’s own acquisition by Sony Pictures Television a year ago.
Fans had enjoyed the partnership which essentially said that Funimation was the dub choice and Crunchyroll was the sub choice online. And as part of that VRV had both available through their platform. This provided anime viewers with a consolidated streaming platform and price to get both catalogs. It also meant that Funimation used its distribution network to bring Crunchyroll titles to home video. Funimation tried to excite fans with this announcement stating that they would now bring back sub and dub titles to their catalog. And promised more licenses in the coming months.
Under the change in this partnership, starting Nov 9th, FunimationNow will add subs back to their catalog for many existing titles. Funimation will be removed from VRV starting Nov 9th as well. Funimation says the deal was ended amicably on both sides. VRV came out and announced the end of the partnership with Funimation and at the same time announced VRV partnering up with HIDIVE, a new anime streaming service. VRV said, in talking about the departure of Funimation, “We understand that these kinds of shifts only lead to more fragmentation for consumers” but said they are committed to creating “robust online and offline offerings”.
The announcement of HIDIVE on VRV signaled a continued growth for them as they have made many new additions to their streaming platform over the last few months. HIDIVE promises to bring a catalog of 500+ subbed, dubbed and simulcast titles from its catalog into VRV. Funimation’s announcement of this shift back to having subs and dubs shows they want to use Sony’s buying power go after more titles and bigger titles.
As both companies part ways, each have found new things to offer their customers on separate platforms. In a lot of way this provides choices to the consumer on how they want to watch their shows. Neither platform have announced any increases in pricing for their streaming services, though if you purchased a dual subscription through VRV for Crunchyroll and Funimation were paying $9.99 for VRV premium. To subscribe to both separately you would pay FunimationNow $5.99/month and Crunchyroll is $6.95/Month, for a combined $13.
Fans reacted swiftly to the announcement, and the anime community seems fairly split on it. Many fans liked the idea of a single place to go and watch all the anime they wanted regardless of who licensed it on VRV. Not to mention the $3/month savings. Others like the idea of the two power houses parent companies going out there and spend some of that money to boost each’s catalog selection. In the end it will mean more titles and more home video releases for fans.
All the titles licensed during the partnership between both companies will continue to be shared with Crunchyroll and FunimationNow subscribers. As specific list of titles going and staying have not been released yet. Crunchyroll has a great and robust subbed catalog. VRV has set itself up as the go to source for streaming just about any animated content online. And now with their recent announcement of Ellation (Crunchyroll/VRV) launching their own studio, we can expect lots of new content. Funimation does a great job of bringing us dubbed content quickly after the Japanese airing and has an excellent home video distribution model that results in making anime affordable for fans to own.
Tell us your thoughts on the changes. Which services do you have and what will you keep when it comes to Funimation, Crunchyroll and VRV. I personally have VRV premium for my Crunchyroll titles I like and non-anime titles, and FunimationNow for dubbed anime. The $3/month more for me is worth it if the companies will now focus on growing their catalogs and doing what they do best.