Sony buys Crunchyroll, effectively gains monopoly

On December 9, Sony bought Crunchyroll, the largest American distributor of Japanese animation. Sony is now the owner of three anime streaming services, Aniplex, Funimation, and now Crunchyroll.

This could only be good for the company itself. This deal sees little benefit for the customers and many negative things could come from it.

The most pressing matter is Sony’s elimination of the competition. It now owns the three largest distributors of anime, effectively holding a monopoly on Japanese animation in the West. The only other companies that could attempt to compete with them are Netflix and Amazon, but their libraries are significantly smaller in comparison. If customers want to indulge in this content, companies owned by Sony are really their only option. They will largely be at the mercy of whatever changes Sony wishes to make.

There are also worries that Crunchyroll will now see more censorship under the new management. Sony has confirmed that they’re putting the heads of Funimation in control of Crunchyroll. Funimation has had some history with censorship, which could carry over to Crunchyroll under this new management. Mostly this is only to a certain extent, changing the meaning of a line here and there, or slight dialogue changes to make a character be seen in a different light. However it is a popular opinion that the show should be portrayed how it was intended. In the end, any censorship, no matter the degree is negative.

Some could argue that this isn’t that big of a deal, that they can still access all of the content either way, However, this is most likely not the case. In recent years, Crunchyroll has begun not just streaming anime, but creating some of it on their own. With Funimation now being in control of Crunchyroll, and Funimation having no history of producing their own anime, it is inevitable that cancellations will be made. This leaves the chance of many shows being cut short through a stricter judgment process than Crunchyroll would have done on its own.

Overall, Sony now owns the majority of the distribution of Japanese animation, or anime, in the West. With this control, customers are at their mercy, and may see further censorship of this media and the cancellation of some of their favorite shows.

There are few situations where you could be an American consumer of this content and still win at the end of the day. This is a large change in the industry and we can only wait and see how it turns out. But for now, it isn’t looking too great for the customers.