Change is continuing to come to the anime market that began several years ago when Netflix started flexing its muscle in the streaming game and as the big studios started up their own services. Sony, who acquired Funimation recently and has Colin Decker as the general manager, is now set to oversee a consolidated group with the two anime streaming businesses of Sony Music Entertainment Japan’s Aniplex with Sony Pictures Television’s U.S.-based Funimation unit.
The deal brings together Funimation with the French and Australian anime divisions owned by Aniplex with Wakanim in France and Madman in Australia. According to the article, “Under the JV structure, Funimation will acquire and distribute Japanese anime content across Funimation in the U.S. and Aniplex’s Wakanim in France and Madman Anime Group in Australia. The consolidated group, jointly owned by Aniplex and Sony Pictures Television, will be led by Funimation general manager Colin Decker.”
“Anime is a growing area of importance for us at Sony Pictures Television,” SPT chairman Mike Hopkins said in announcing the JV. “By combining these businesses, we immediately increase our global reach and expertise in [subscription] VOD, theatrical, home video, merchandising, events and more.”
As an example, Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia will be a 30-day exclusive on Funimation, Wakanaim, and Madman’s AnimeLab service for thirty days before going for wider distribution. They don’t indicate which services but there are multiple that can be worked with. Funimation also has a one-year streaming exclusive on the dub for this series.
“It just became clear when we looked at the global view of anime at Sony, these things should really be together,” said Decker, who joined Funimation from rival Crunchyroll this past May. “Aniplex is one of the most respected names in anime and strategically this positions us to deliver more value to fans and creators.”
Unremarked upon in the article is Aniplex USA. My belief at this time is that the company will continue to exist and serve as they have since inception – a boutique distributor for shows that Aniplex has a stake in. There may be some projects that get shuffled over to Funimation that might have not seen home video release before, but I suspect we won’t see much difference in how Aniplex USA operates.