After a two-year partnership that proved not only beneficial to both Funimation and Crunchyroll but also anime fans around the world, the two anime stakeholders parted ways in November 2018. With fans around the world wondering how the changing anime landscape will impact their ability to see their favorite series, Funimation President and CEO Gen Fukunaga explained why Funimation parted ways with Crunchyroll; and how their new agreement with streaming service Hulu will work:
● One of the important things Fukunaga wants anime fans to understand is that there were negotiations for the Sony-owned company to continue working with Crunchyroll – but the impasse over international expansion (Funimation was blocked from certain regions through the old agreement) was too great:
“We did try to renew with [Crunchyroll], but there were some terms that they would not give on that we really had to have, to have a longer-term renewal with them. And they wouldn’t budge, and we couldn’t renew on those terms. So Sony had to make this tough decision: if they weren’t going to budge on those terms, then we just have to double down and decide if we’re going to go at it alone. And that’s what happened.”
● Hulu’s ability to get past those restrictions and get Funimation into new regions was one of the main reasons for their new partnership: “One of the benefits of that deal is that it doesn’t have some of the handcuffs that we couldn’t get around with Crunchyroll. Obviously, we could do this new deal that included no restrictions on global expansion.”
● Also under the new deal with Hulu, Funimation will give the streaming service some content while still maintaining a larger anime library. Dubbed versions will be “windowed back” on Funimation, with subbed versions dubuting on Funimation and Hulu at the same time as Japan.
“[Hulu] have their own anime base and this will help us co-buy content, and bid for the bigger titles, They’ll help us get the mass exposure and we can get the hardcore anime fans on our platform. It was a good partnership in that sense and we can co-exist. And that’s why it works for us.”
● So where exactly will anime fans be able to find their favorite shows? In general, Hulu and Funimation will retain their original line-ups – but all content produced during the deal will remain on both platforms.
“Anything we’ve already done, we’re going to continue to release it on home video. We’re locked in together on the stuff we’ve worked on together. The question is ‘what’s going to happen to future titles, to future seasons?’ The answer to that is: it depends. The contract wording is a little bit nebulous, and we are going title by title and deciding what we are working on together.”
“Right now, we’re vetting through every title to decide what we’re working on together and what we’re not. Until both parties agree, we don’t know [how long it’ll be until fans know].”