Crunchyroll Unveils Updated Streaming Features

Anime streaming service Crunchyroll is unveiling a new beta experience for Crunchyroll Premium users in the United States.

Crunchyroll Beta includes the launch of the new Crunchylists feature alongside an updated home page, redesigned browse and watch pages, new search capabilities and a mobile responsive experience.

Within Crunchyroll Beta, the Crunchyroll home page has a new user interface, allowing users access to personalized recommendations and the ability to navigate easily to their watchlist or to specific show or episode pages, which have all been redesigned. Crunchyroll Beta also offers users improved search and filtering so that they can more easily access simulcasts, new and popular anime, and explore different genres, while filtering between subtitled or dubbed anime series. In addition to the new search bar, Crunchyroll will continue to offer curated collections, handpicked by Crunchyroll’s anime experts.

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Users also now have the ability to create unique user names and select from a curated library of avatars and header images featuring different series.

The Crunchylists feature allows users to create a curated collection of their own. Users can add a title to their unique Crunchylist creations, add any series or select episodes from Crunchyroll’s extensive collection of more than 1,000 series, and organize their Crunchylist however they choose.

To experience Crunchyroll Beta, eligible Crunchyroll Premium users can opt-in through the header images or pop ups that appear across the Crunchyroll website. Currently, Crunchyroll Beta is only available to 20% of premium users, but it will eventually become available to all premium subscribers and all free users in the United States. Users can opt in and out of the beta experience to Crunchyroll Classic as they would like and can share feedback in the “Leave Feedback” function under their profile header.

Crunchyroll is available in more than 200 countries and territories, with translation in eight languages. Users can watch anime for free with ads or can choose from three different subscription memberships that allow for ad-free viewing, access to popular simulcast titles day and date with premiere in Japan, offline viewing, and a mix of additional benefits.

HBO Max Panelist: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Broke All Records

The Christmas day release of Wonder Woman 1984 was a boon for the HBO Max subscription streaming service, according to WarnerMedia’s Sarah Lyons, EVP of direct-to-consumer global product management for HBO Max.

Wonder Woman 1984 broke all records that we had internally from both a projection and a prior-viewing standpoint,” Lyons said on a Feb. 8 virtual panel during Digital Entertainment World. “We feel that that momentum is only going to continue.”

WarnerMedia’s strategy to release first-run movies, such as Wonder Woman 1984, directly onto its streaming service concurrently with a theatrical release is designed to give consumers choice, she said.

“With this slate of films, there are some consumers that still want to go out to the theater and enjoy it in the theater and have that great theatrical experience that we all know and love, and then there are other consumers that are stuck at home, and so we want to give our customers the ability to have a choice whether to view it at home on HBO Max or to go out to the theaters, and that strategy so far has resonated very well,” she said.

HBO Max will continue to grow subscribers, she said.

“We absolutely see the momentum as sustainable,” she said. “We grew more subs in 2020 with HBO Max than HBO did over all of the last 10 years. So that momentum is huge, and our subscribers are highly engaged.”

HBO Max’s mix of HBO, Warner Bros. and other content widens its appeal.

“We’ve expanded our target demographics beyond what just HBO just offered,” she said. “HBO typically caters to and had a base that was largely older and male dominated. The idea with HBO Max is that we add on content that is attractive to families with kids, to Gen Z, the millennials, kids … . Serving the needs of the entire family is really important to us.”

There is room for more than one player in the streaming market, she said. “We think consumers from our research will subscribe to between three and four platforms,” Lyons said.

Fresh off Super Bowl ads that touted the upcoming March 4 launch of Paramount+, which will incorporate the existing CBS All Access service, Rob Gelick, ViacomCBS EVP and GM of streaming services and chief product officer, said there’s a lot of room for new services, especially those that can differentiate.

“You see all of the IP coming together from the other big entrants, and I think that’s going to challenge who the big three really are, in addition to the fact that you’re going to just see a broader swath of adopted services per household,” he said.

That includes the pending Paramount+.

“We combine the best in live sports and breaking news and that mountain of entertainment,” he said, alluding to the Paramount mountain used in the commercials to symbolize the service’s entertainment heft.

“Users are going for destination television,” he said. “Even this past year as we added more and more original, exclusive series we saw 100% growth in subscribers streaming originals, almost nearly that in time spent, and that’s because we’re dropping big marquee franchises, like a whole number of series from the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, including ‘Discovery.’ This week is the final for another original, ‘Stephen King’s The Stand.’ We’ve announced for March 4 a ton of great kids programming, including ‘Kamp Koral,’ which is a new series in the ‘SpongeBob’ franchise.”

Streaming is most definitely the future, accelerated by the pandemic, said Joanne Waage, GM of the Crunchyroll service.

“We are seeing finally that big shift from cable to the streaming services,” she said. “I think what’s going to be interesting is how quickly cable tanks at this point. It’s already been declining significantly. At this stage, do you really need both?”

Niche players such as Crunchyroll, which specializes in anime and adult animation, have to constantly innovate to attract viewers, she said. The service, an AVOD to SVOD model, recently announced it has 100 million registered users and 4 million paying subscribers.

“Certainly, we are one of the very successful niche models,” Waage said. “The role of services like ours, a lot of it is to push the boundaries of the mediums that we are in. We win by catering to the passions of our audience and really delivering a depth of experience. That’s our goal.”

But Crunchyroll sees itself having a bigger role.

“We get categorized as niche,” she said. “I would say we are sort of breaking out of that as we look at our future. We see ourselves as the next DC or Marvel or Disney, in that we are pushing this type of medium to the next generation of fans and that’s really adult animation, bigger than anime, and there’s no bounds to that. So that becomes not niche.

“Netflix is nipping at our heels and HBO Max … and so we have to just continue to innovate.”

Helping consumers discover content to watch and personalizing content for subscribers is key, said panelists.

“We put just as much stake in our consumer experience, in our product experience, as we do the content,” Lyons said of HBO Max. “We know consumers when they make a decision about a streaming service, there’s so much great content out there that the experience is just as much a part of their decision. How they interact with that app, how they find content, making it easy to discover, personalizing that experience, tailoring it to them is of utmost importance to stand out in the marketplace.”

Gelick agreed  that it’s important to see that “the right people are discovering [content] at the right time” and make sure customers don’t leave when they finish a piece of content.

“One of the biggest things for us is that post-completion experience … . You come to the last episode that’s available. How do you keep people engaged? What you surface in that moment I would see as an art,” he said.

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Data as well as a human touch is the way to curate, Lyons said.

“We actually believe in a blend,” Lyons said. “Human curation is really important for us because we feel like we’re a service with a point of view. We’re just as passionate fans behind this app as any other fans out there. We use these services, too. And so we want to bring an element of that hand touch, human curated content that is relevant of the zeitgeist, that has a point of view, and then we blend that with underlying data to personalize those curations.… That’s where the sweet spot is, and that’s where we think we can create a great experience for our customers.”

ViacomCBS streaming services use data to identify groups of similar customers to serve them better.

“We have a way to break out what I would call viewing cohorts into really small actionable groups,” Gelick said. “As you start hitting scale, personalization at its core is so critically important, and so I think everybody has their own flavor of this.”

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In addition to data and human curation, Waage emphasized the importance of generating old-fashioned word of mouth through social media.

“I think data is amazing and curation through technology is amazing … but ultimately you might be presented the best show for you, and if you’ve not heard of it, you’re probably not going to watch it,” she noted.

Thus, finding a way to generate buzz is key.

“They’re going to hear about it through friends, and so social is incredibly important,” she said, adding, “There is a feeling that there is a real person on the other side of it saying you should check this out.”

Crunchyroll will often use social media to reignite interest in a title.

“If there’s a slow period, we will go on social and reinvigorate shows that have maybe been sleeping for awhile,” she said.

Sang Kim, SVP of product at Samsung Electronics, said the company has a bird’s eye view of consumer usage of services because they are part of the smart TV system. Partners can get insights into how to target their content from that data.

“With the data that we collect for example on TV you can find your specific audiences of sports lovers or drama or whatnot,” he said. “We have made this data accessible for our partners to use and find their audiences so it’s a very robust data set.”

“We do not provide the raw data outside of their own specific services, but we’ll democratize that and roll it up to high levels so you can find your audiences.”

Samsung has seen huge growth in AVOD, he said.

Citing research that shows AVOD in a quarter of U.S. broadband houses, Gelick noted that AVOD service Pluto TV is part of the ViacomCBS family.

“I run product for that group as well,” he said. “I think AVOD and where we see the SVOD business as going is a much, much more tightly aligned strategy.”

That strategy involves using the AVOD experience to move customers into SVOD or “using that as a top of the funnel driver for premium subscription streaming.”

HBO Max, too, is planning an AVOD product.

“We have announced that we are launching an ad supported option later this year,” Lyons said.

It’s designed “to have a cheaper price point for consumers so that you can reach a broader audience that may not be able to afford a premium service, and you have something for everyone,” she said.

Sony Looking to Further Bridge Anime, Movie, Video Game Markets

Sony is seeking to further meld anime, motion picture and video game markets through SVOD subsidiary Crunchyroll; a minority stake in Epic Games, publisher of the Fortnite game franchise; the PlayStation 5 game system; and other ventures.

Speaking on the Feb. 3 third-quarter fiscal call, CFO Hiroki Totoki said consumer interest in anime throughout Japan has increased 150% over the past five years, in addition to 19% worldwide year-over-year. Crunchyroll recently topped 90 million registered users and 4 million paid subscribers across more than 200 countries.

Indeed, anime movie sequel Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, entered 2021 as Japan’s biggest box office hit, with more than $346 million in ticket sales through Jan. 5.

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“When the markets are growing, we try to enter such market to create our growth,” Totoki said. “But according to our internal investigation, those game players, the users that enjoy games and animation, it seems that there’s high level of affinity between these two groups.”

Totoki expects to see increased cross-selling opportunities in anime and gaming going forward. Sony’s recent $250 million investment in Epic includes development of movies and music. Epic is set to release its first animated feature film, Gilgamesh, directed by Tomas Lipgot, whose Spanish-language film, The Adopters, was recently acquired by Sony Pictures Television.

“That’s a new kind of entertainment in music and motion pictures for gaming,” Totoki said. “Consumer interest in Japanese anime is increasing rapidly, particularly outside of Japan. And as a company that currently owns both content and DTC streaming service, we have positioned anime as a focus area.”

Separately, Sony said it remains on track to meet a fiscal-year sales goal of more than 7.6 million PS5 units (4.5 million cumulative units sold through December) — despite ongoing console shortages due to a lack of semiconductors. Sony is projecting 14.8 million PS5 unit sales through the next fiscal year.

Total PlayStation user game play in December was about 30% higher than the same month of the previous fiscal year, according to Sony. At the end of December, 87% of PS5 users were subscribers to PlayStation Plus, the subscription platform affording users free access to games, multiplayer gaming, PlayStation Store store, and 100GB of cloud storage, among other features.

First-party PS5 title Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, recorded sales of 4.1 million units through December.

“We had more game software titles at the launch of the PS5 than at any previous PlayStation console launch in our history, and those titles have sold well,” Totoki said.

 

Crunchyroll Reaches 4M Subs, Inks Deal With Elbas for New Series

Anime SVOD distributor Crunchyroll Feb. 2 announced it reached the 4 million subscriber mark in January, just six months after hitting 3 million, and has inked a deal with Idris and Sabrina Elba to develop a dark fantasy animated series.

Idris and Sabrina Elba will serve as executive producers on “Dantai” (working title).

“For more than a decade, through anime and anime-inspired Originals, Crunchyroll has been leading the charge for the popularization of adult dramatic animation and we are fast becoming the epicenter for the next generation of animation fans, as is evidenced by our incredible growth in registered users and subscribers,” Crunchyroll GM Joanne Waage said in a statement. “Gens Y and Z have experienced superhero fatigue and are hungry for the new stories and ideas that our creators tell. This development deal with Sabrina and Idris Elba is another example of how we’re working with best-in-class partners to bring in new audiences and tell fresh and compelling stories through a medium that transcends genres and generations.”

Currently in development, the Afro-futuristic science-fiction series will be set in a city where the rise of biotechnology has created an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots. Two rising stars from either side of this divide are pitted against each other in a story that will ultimately explore equality and kinship within a corrupt society.

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Idris and Sabrina to develop this anime-inspired sci-fi epic,” Sarah Victor, head of development, Crunchyroll, said in a statement. “It is a privilege to work with such talented, creative partners and we look forward to bringing this exciting project to life.”

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“We’re really excited to be announcing this deal on our first anime,” the Elbas said in a statement. “We’re both fans of the genre and see a huge opportunity to create something unique for a powerhouse like Crunchyroll. The story of ‘Dantai’ is our first collaboration as producers together and is one that is close to our hearts.”

Crunchyroll, a WarnerMedia company, has a library of more than 1,000 titles and 30,000 episodes, available to fans in more than 200 countries and territories. Crunchyroll currently has more than 100 million registered users and more than 50 million followers across social media. Fans have access to licensed anime through Crunchyroll, Anime Digital Network (in partnership with Citel, a subsidiary of Média-Participations), and Anime on Demand video streaming services, translated in multiple languages for viewers worldwide. Viewers can also access simulcasts — series available immediately after Japanese broadcast. Crunchyroll’s services also extend to licensing of theatrical, TV, home video, consumer product and video game rights.

AT&T Sells Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation

AT&T has agreed to sell its Crunchyroll anime streaming service to Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion.

Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment’s (Japan) subsidiary, Aniplex Inc.

Crunchyroll is an anime direct-to-consumer service within AT&T’s WarnerMedia segment with more than 3 million SVOD subscribers. It serves 90 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories offering AVOD, mobile games, manga, events merchandise and distribution.

The combination of Crunchyroll and Funimation provides the opportunity to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers, according to the AT&T-Sony joint release.

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“The Crunchyroll team has done an extraordinary job of not only growing the Crunchyroll brand but also building a passionate community of anime fans. Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans,” Tony Goncalves, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia, said in a statement. “By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people. I’m incredibly proud of the Crunchyroll team and what they have been able to accomplish in the digital media space in such a short period of time. They’ve created an end-to-end global ecosystem for this incredible art form.”

“We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family,” Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement. “Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world. Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere. Funimation has been doing this for over 25 years and we look forward to continuing to leverage the power of creativity and technology to succeed in this rapidly growing segment of entertainment.”

“We are excited to embark on this new journey. Crunchyroll has built a world-class brand with a passionate fan-base of over 3 million subscribers, 50 million social followers and 90 million registered users. These amazing fans have helped to propel anime into a global phenomenon,” Joanne Waage, GM of Crunchyroll, said in a statement. “Combining the strength of the Crunchyroll brand and the expertise of our global team with Funimation is an exciting prospect and a win for the incredible art form of anime.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Sony Eyeing AT&T’s Crunchyroll Anime SVOD Service in $957 Million Deal

Sony Corp. is reportedly finalizing a $957 million acquisition of AT&T’s Crunchyroll anime subscription streaming VOD service and IP content. AT&T is looking to sell non-core assets since it acquired Time Warner, including Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, accumulating more than $180 billion in debt in the process.

The deal’s status was first reported by Nikkei Asian Review, which cited sources familiar with the situation. AT&T, which gained Crunchyroll in its 2018 acquisition of Otter Media from The Chernin Group, had been asking $1.5 billion for the anime platform.

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Sony, which acquired Funimation and its one million subs in 2017, is looking to solidify control of the anime market. The Crunchyroll deal would bring in-house streaming, 1,000 anime titles, and an existing subscriber base of 70 million free ad-supported viewers and three million paid users globally.

AT&T Ups Effort to Sell DirecTV, Xandr and Crunchyroll

After years of acquisitions, AT&T is on a sales mode. The telecom’s on-again, off-again love affair with satellite pay-TV distribution appears to be off again. The company has reportedly hired a major investment banker to help unload DirecTV, which it acquired in 2015 for $48.5 billion just as online TV and subscription streaming video-on-demand was flourishing.

AT&T is also looking to offload anime-based streaming service/publisher Crunchyroll and Xandr, the online advertising unit launched just two years (following the $1.8 billion acquisition of AppNexus), but has struggled to gain traction due to a variety of issues in the rapidly changing digital ecosystem.

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With nearly $180 billion in debt following the $85 billion purchase of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), AT&T has been looking to cut non-core assets. The debt is now down to $152 billion, and despite repeated denials from senior executives over the years, DirecTV appears to be on sales block.

The Wall Street Journal reports AT&T is working with Goldman Sachs to find a buyer willing to pay around $20 billion for 50% stake in the El Segundo, Calif.-based pay-TV operator. The sale is challenged by ongoing secular changes in home entertainment underscored by the loss of 7 million combined DirecTV/AT&T U-verse video subs in the past year.

As subscription streaming video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu proliferate, AT&T has attempted to straddle traditional linear TV distribution with over-the-top video. The company has now moved much of its content distribution future into HBO Max, the $15 monthly SVOD platform, which plans to offer an ad-supported tier in 2021.

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“To the extent that we’re able to get those [pay-TV] customers engaged with us on those [streaming] platforms, then we’re in a good place, and we’re OK with that,” CEO John Stankey told CNBC in July. “And if that takes us down a path that says satellite delivery is less important, so be it.”

A possible merger with rival Dish Network is a favorite proposition for Dish founder/CEO Charlie Ergen, but some observers say the idea would trigger anti-trust issues from the government.

Xandr, which generated about $2 billion in revenue in 2019, had hoped to capitalize on the burgeoning digital ad market focusing on non-video displays. That strategy has apparently backfired as online video ads dominate and online TV publishers were reluctant to sell their ad inventory through Xandr due to AT&T’s competing HBO Max platform, The Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Crunchyroll, which AT&T acquired in its purchase of Otter Media, is on the block for a reported $1.5 billion with interested suitors including Sony Corp.

Crunchyroll Bows New Membership Tiers

Anime streaming service Crunchyroll has introduced new membership tiers.

Updates to the Crunchyroll Android and iOS applications began rolling out Aug. 24 offering access to the new benefits. Not all users will have access right away, but the updated application should be fully available to global fans in early September.

The new tiers are:

  • “Free,” with ad-supported streaming access and new episodes available one week after premiere;
  • “Fan,” at $7.99 per month and including ad-free viewing, full access to Crunchyroll’s anime library of more than 1,000 titles and 30,000 episodes alongside immediate access to simulcast series day and date with their premiere in Japan, access to Crunchyroll’s library of digital manga, and access to one stream;
  • “Mega Fan,” available for $9.99 per month and including ad-free viewing, full access to Crunchyroll’s anime library alongside immediate access to simulcast series day and date with premiere in Japan, access to Crunchyroll’s library of digital manga, offline viewing, access to four concurrent streams, and $15 off a purchase of $100 every three months at the Crunchyroll Store; and
  • “Ultimate Fan,” at $14.99 per month and including ad-free viewing, full access to Crunchyroll’s anime library alongside immediate access to simulcast series day and date with premiere in Japan, access to Crunchyroll’s library of digital manga, offline viewing, access to six concurrent streams, $25 off a purchase of $100 every three months at the Crunchyroll Store, an annual Ultimate Fan member swag bag, and exclusive access to the purchase of Ultimate Fan merchandise.

 

Consumers without a current premium membership can learn more by going to crunchyroll.com/welcome. Premium members can learn more at crunchyroll.com/acct/membership.

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In addition to a large collection of anime, Crunchyroll connects the anime community through Crunchyroll News, shopping exclusives on the Crunchyroll Store, a variety of mobile games, and live and virtual events such as the upcoming Virtual Crunchyroll Expo.

Crunchyroll Crosses 3 Million Paid Subs

Anime streaming service Crunchyroll has crossed 3 million paid subscribers globally and more than 70 million registered users, according to the service.

With more than 1,000 titles and 30,000 episodes, Crunchyroll is available in more than 200 countries and territories with select series simulcast in eight languages day and date with the premiere in Japan, according to the service.

“Crunchyroll’s global growth has been incredible,” Joanne Waage, GM of Crunchyroll, said in a statement. “We launched in 2006 and it took us about 10 years to hit 1 million subscribers. It took us only two years after that to break 2 million, and even less than that to hit 3 million subscribers where we are today. But we don’t just measure success based on paying subscribers. We have an active and growing AVOD community of more 70 million registered users. Our goal has always been to grow the love of anime globally, and these numbers show our labor of love is paying off — and this is just the beginning.”

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Crunchyroll is part of Otter Media, a WarnerMedia company, that manages and invests in a portfolio of digital-first media brands. Late last year, Crunchyroll closed the majority acquisition of VIZ Media Europe Group, expanding its suite of consumer brands to include streaming services Anime Digital Network (in partnership with Citel, a subsidiary of Média-Participations) and Anime on Demand, DVD and manga publisher KAZÉ, and live action content distributor Eye See Movies.

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Other recent developments include:

  • Earlier this year, Crunchyroll announced its inaugural slate of Crunchyroll Originals, with 12 total series announced thus far. The first two originals were “Tower of God,” a Crunchyroll and Webtoon Production, and “The God of High School.”
  • Crunchyroll has launched more than 20 Crunchyroll Loves collections, the brand’s in-house streetwear line, featuring rapper, songwriter and singer Megan Thee Stallion; the iconic franchise Godzilla; and horror manga artist Junji Ito; as well as series “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” and “DARLING in the FRANXX” among other franchises.
  • Crunchyroll has helped launch seven games to date, reaching more than a combined 500,000 monthly players, with more to come before the end of the year. The most recent game, “Mass for the Dead,” which was released at the end of April, is based on the anime series “Overlord.”
  • Earlier this year, Crunchyroll and HBO Max teamed up to bring fans more anime. Crunchyroll currently curates the Crunchyroll hub on HBO Max, bringing select fan-favorite titles to the platform each quarter. Crunchyroll has also announced several linear TV partnerships, including curating anime for the Toonami block on Adult Swim and for a special anime block for TNT Comedy in Germany. Crunchyroll EMEA also distributed the popular sports series “Captain Tsubasa” across eight countries on more than 40 linear TV channels.
  • Crunchyroll currently manages merchandising rights for more than 350 anime titles, working with more than 100 global licensees to provide anime fans with lifestyle, fashion, and home goods products from their favorite series.
  • In 2019, Crunchyroll participated in more than 190 events across 18 countries, reaching more than 22 million fans. This year, Crunchyroll has participated in 21 virtual events across Crunchyroll, Anime Digital Network, Anime on Demand, and KAZÉ. Crunchyroll also hosts the Anime Awards, the brand’s yearly celebration of the best in anime, reaching more than 11 million votes this year (up from 5 million the year before), with more than half coming from international fans. Crunchyroll also hosts an annual anime convention, Crunchyroll Expo, and will introduce a Virtual Crunchyroll Expo this labor day weekend.
  • Crunchyroll serves the global anime community, managing more than 350 social channels that cater to more than 40 million anime fans. This also includes the publication of Crunchyroll News, the owned and operated editorial arm of Crunchyroll read by more than 2.5 million fans per month.

 

“Crunchyroll is a pioneer in the direct-to-consumer space, who for the last 14 years, has shown the industry first-hand what it takes to build a successful DTC business with a die-hard, passionate fan base supporting it,” Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media, said in a statement. “I am so proud of the entire Crunchyroll team for this incredible accomplishment and for their continued focus on harnessing the global anime community through authentic storytelling. It’s what makes Crunchyroll so much more than a DTC — it’s the preeminent Anime brand globally.”

Crunchyroll is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, Lausanne, Chisinau and Berlin (AV Visionen).

Crunchyroll Taps Julian Lai-Hung to Head Asian Content Strategy

Crunchyroll, the anime-centric producer/distributor owned by WarnerMedia, continues to aggressively re-assert its brand globally, naming Julian Lai-Hung as the head of content strategy & business development focused on Japan and Asia-Pacific markets.

AT&T and The Chernin Group in 2014 formed over-the-top video conglomerate Otter Media, which became majority owner of 8-year-old Crunchyroll. AT&T melded the anime company to WarnerMedia after acquiring Time Warner.

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Julian-Lai-Hung

Based in Tokyo, Lai-Hung will focus on building out Crunchyroll’s content strategy, driving the originals initiative and identifying new business opportunities with existing and new partners.

Lai-Hung cut his teeth working for Netflix where he helped the SVOD pioneer launch the service in Japan and oversaw the global anime category as director of content and anime in the region, and at Warner Bros., where he led a team as the VP of international digital distribution and global sales.

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While at Netflix, Lai-Hung was executive producer across a number of titles, including “Terrace House Aloha State,” “Million Yen Women,” “Godzilla: Monster Planet,” “Kuromukuro” and “Blazing Transfer Students.”

In addition to Lai-Hung, recent Crunchyroll appointments include Alden Budill as head of global partnerships and content strategy; Terry Li as head of 360 and GM of Crunchyroll Games, and John Easum as the head of Crunchyroll EMEA following the acquisition of VIZ Media Europe Group.

“Given Julian’s deep expertise and passion for the medium, he’s the perfect addition to our team to progress our efforts to identify new partnerships and creative opportunities,” Budill said in a statement.