Sony Pictures Television Networks has reached an agreement to acquire a substantial majority stake in Japanese anime distributor Funimation Productions.
The company is valued at approximately US$150 million.
Gen Fukunaga, Funimation CEO, will retain a minority stake in the business and remain the CEO.
Funimation is responsible for some of the biggest anime titles including, Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop, One Piece, My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan.
Funimation licenses and distributes Japanese anime content around the world, and operates the subscription streaming service FunimationNOW, available via the PlayStation Store, so they acquisition was a no-brainer for Sony.
Andy Kaplan, Sony Pictures Television president says, “Around the world, Sony's networks have been major players in the anime space for nearly two decades, and in more recent years we have rapidly increased our networks' over-the-top and digital offerings to consumers.”
“With the acquisition of Funimation, the combined IP of Animax, Kids Station and Funimation allows us to deliver the best anime to fans across all screens and platforms.”
Sony Pictures Television Networks' Animax network is a multi-platform provider of Japanese anime content currently operating in 23 countries.
Fukunaga says, “With Funimation's long-established leadership position in anime and Sony's direct access to the creative pipeline in Japan, it will be a great partnership to take Funimation to the next level.”
Funimation has experienced tremendous growth and success since 2011.
Sony may be uniquely positioned to lead Funimation and its fans into an exciting and entertaining future.
Sony Pictures Television Networks operates several other established linear channel brands including AXN, Sony Channel, and Animax, as well as digital brands including Crackle around the world.
Anime fans shouldn’t worry about the acquisition, as Funimation’s structure and the directorial board will remain largely the same.
However, if you watch on Xbox you may soon have to switch to PC, as I imagine the Funimation app won’t continue to exist much longer on the Microsoft console.
This is purely speculation of course, as there have been no mentions or announcements of service withdrawals.
Sony Pictures Television Networks operates branded entertainment channels reaching nearly two billion subscribers around the world.
This acquisition will undoubtedly only continue to grow that network.