Media distribution site Crunchyroll and North American anime licensor and distributor FUNimation Entertainment announced a partnership on Thursday that will include cross-streaming opportunities, Broadcast Dub production, and home video distribution. The partnership is currently limited to the United States and Canada.
Starting on Thursday, Crunchyroll viewers can watch subtitled versions of Funimation’s summer simulcast titles, including: D. Gray-man Hallow, First Love Monster, and Puzzle & Dragons X. Select Funimation catalog titles such as Cowboy Bebop, Psycho-Pass, and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash are also available now on Crunchyroll.
The two companies also announced that certain Crunchyroll catalog titles such as Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club and The Testament of Sister New Devil will be available on FunimationNow “in the coming weeks.”
Additionally, FunimationNow viewers will be able to watch Broadcast Dubs of some of Crunchyroll’s summersimulcast titles, including: 91 Days, Mob Psycho 100, and Orange. Funimation and Crunchyroll stated that the Broadcast Dubs will premiere “in the weeks to come,” and will announce specific release schedules later.
Gen Fukunaga, CEO and president of Funimation, told ANN that the decision about which of Crunchyroll’s titles will get an English dub is “primarily being driven by Funimation,” but that the two companies meet every week to talk about titles. Fukunaga also stated that Funimation has already expanded its budget for its dub production operation in order to meet the increased dub workload, and said regarding the future of FunimationNow, “FunimationNow will be the home for the dubs — we’re focusing on simuldubs, to get those out much faster, closer to Japanese broadcast.”
Funimation and Crunchyroll will not be embedding each others’ video players onto their sites, but will instead continue to use their own video players to play the collaborative content. Fukunaga stated that the two companies will be cross-marketing to work together to promote the titles.
The companies will also continue to work together for future seasons for subtitled and Broadcast Dub content.
Funimation will also serve as the distributor for Crunchyroll’s home video release titles and EST (electronic sell-through) releases through “a variety of EST outlets.” Titles currently planned include: Ace Attorney, Alderamin on the Sky, Bungo Stray Dogs, JOKER GAME, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, and ReLIFE. The home video and EST releases will include subtitles and English dubs.
Crunchyroll had announced at Anime Expo in July that it will start dubbing and releasing some of its anime series on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. In addition to Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Crunchyroll announced plans to release Berserk(new series), Twin Star Exorcists, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Myriad Colors Phantom World, Big Order, and Gintama on home video with English dubs. According to Funimation, Crunchyrollbegan the production process on these titles, and Funimation is reviewing the titles based on licensor approval and its own production and release schedule, but the titles have not yet been officially confirmed as part of the partnership.
The companies will announce more titles for home video in the future.
Kun Gao, Crunchyroll co-founder and general manager, told ANN that he and Fukunaga met in June at a conference and started discussions then about working together. Gao stated that Crunchyroll wanted to build “the best fan experience” with the company’s goal to simulcast every anime. “We’re getting closer to that goal every quarter, but it’s challenging,” Gao stated. “Funimation runs a great service and they get a ton of great titles as well – each season, fans had to make a choice, or subscribe to both services. It wasn’t an optimal fan experience, for simulcasts.”
Fukunaga also stated about the reason behind the partnership, “The problem is, the market was fragmenting up a bit – you had other players coming in, [like] Amazon [and] Hulu … The issue with some of those big players is that they’re maybe not as concerned with the fan experience as Crunchyroll and Funimation.” He added, “working together … [Funimation and Crunchyroll] can provide a better experience … that really works for the fans.”
Gao stated that right now the companies have “no intention” to expand the partnership into a merger, and added, “we’re still operating our own businesses, as we always have, as standalone businesses … we’re thinking of this primarily as a partnership to grow the fan experience, grow the brand and monetization capabilities for our licensors.”
Fukunaga also said that the two companies are working together during the acquisition process for new titles, adding “when we talk every week about the titles we’re acquiring, we’re learning from each other.” Gao also said regarding monetization of the collaboration titles, “This partnership means that together, we can more broadly monetize these rights, in more ways … not just simulcasts, but broadcast dubs, TV, EST, home video, merchandise, across the entire spectrum of rights in each property that we’ve both wanted to optimize in the past, and now together we can. [Licensors will] see even more returns from their properties when they work with Crunchyroll and Funimationtogether.”