Funimation, one of the most popular anime streaming services in the world, announced that it will shut down on April 2, 2024. This shocking news came after the company merged with Crunchyroll, another leading anime platform, in 2022. What are the reasons behind this decision, and how will it affect the millions of anime fans who use Funimation? This article will explore the history of Funimation and its merger with Crunchyroll, the details of the shutting down announcement, and the possible explanations for this move.
The History of Funimation and Its Merger with Crunchyroll
Funimation was founded in 1994 by Gen Fukunaga, a Japanese-American entrepreneur who wanted to bring anime to the US market. The company started by licensing and dubbing popular anime shows such as Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto. Over the years, Funimation expanded its library and reach, becoming one of the largest distributors of anime in North America and other regions.
Crunchyroll, on the other hand, was founded in 2006 by a group of anime fans who wanted to create a platform where they could watch anime legally and support the creators. The company initially relied on user-uploaded content, but later secured deals with major Japanese studios and publishers to stream anime legally and simulcast new episodes as they air in Japan. Crunchyroll also produced its own original anime series and partnered with other streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Max.
In December 2020, Sony, the parent company of Funimation, announced that it had agreed to buy Crunchyroll from AT&T for $1.175 billion. The deal was finalized in August 2022, after receiving approval from the US Department of Justice and other regulators. The merger created a new entity called Funimation Global Group, which combined the assets and operations of both Funimation and Crunchyroll.
The merger was seen as a way to consolidate the anime market and create a stronger competitor to other streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney. The merger also aimed to provide more value and choice to the subscribers of both services, who could access a larger and more diverse catalog of anime titles. The merger also promised to invest more in producing and licensing original and exclusive anime content for the global audience.
Funimation’s Shutting Down Announcement
On February 1, 2024, Funimation Global Group issued a press release that shocked the anime community. The company announced that it will shut down the Funimation service on April 2, 2024, and migrate all of its existing subscribers and content to Crunchyroll. The company stated that this decision was made to streamline its operations and focus on delivering the best anime experience to its fans through one unified platform.
The company assured that the transition will be smooth and seamless, and that the subscribers will not lose access to their favorite anime shows and features. The company also said that it will honor the existing subscription plans and pricing of Funimation users, and that they will be able to enjoy the same or better benefits on Crunchyroll. The company also said that it will continue to offer both subbed and dubbed versions of anime, and that it will maintain the Funimation brand and identity as a label within Crunchyroll.
Speculations and Possible Reasons for Shutting Down
The announcement of Funimation’s shutting down sparked a lot of speculation and debate among the anime fans and industry experts. Some of the possible reasons for this move are:
- Financial issues: Some analysts suggested that the merger of Funimation and Crunchyroll was not as profitable as expected, and that the company was facing financial difficulties due to the high cost of licensing and producing anime content. By shutting down Funimation, the company could save money on operating and maintaining two separate platforms, and focus on increasing the revenue and profitability of Crunchyroll.
- Strategic decision: Some observers argued that the shutting down of Funimation was a strategic decision to simplify and streamline the company’s business model and brand image. By having one single platform, the company could avoid confusion and competition among its own services, and create a more consistent and coherent user experience. The company could also leverage the larger and more established user base and reputation of Crunchyroll, which has over 120 million registered users and 5 million paying subscribers worldwide.
- Competition from other streaming services: Some commentators speculated that the shutting down of Funimation was a response to the increasing competition from other streaming services that offer anime content, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney. These services have been investing heavily in acquiring and producing original and exclusive anime content, and have been attracting more viewers and subscribers with their global reach and diverse offerings. By shutting down Funimation, the company could focus on strengthening and expanding Crunchyroll, and compete more effectively with these rivals.
Funimation’s shutting down is a surprising and sad news for many anime fans who have been loyal to the service for years. However, the company claims that this decision is for the best, and that it will provide a better and more satisfying anime experience to its subscribers through Crunchyroll. The company also promises to keep the Funimation brand and identity alive, and to continue to offer both subbed and dubbed anime content. The company hopes that the anime fans will support and embrace this change, and that they will enjoy the new and improved anime service that will emerge from this merger.