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Sony’s takeover of CrunchyRoll worries US justice

The takeover of Crunchyroll by Sony worries the American justice system. Announced in 2020, this transaction is being studied by the American anti-trust department. He is concerned that this acquisition leaves Sony in full control of the industry.

Credit: Tôei Animation Company

Last December, Warner Media announced that it had reached an agreement with Sony to the takeover of CrunchyRoll. Created in 2006, the American VOD platform whose theme is the distribution and broadcasting of animated series and feature films could in fact be acquired by Sony Media, up to $ 1.2 billion. But this transaction worries the American justice according to the American media The Information. Indeed, the firm holds the American broadcasting rights for many licenses such as Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon. Justice therefore wants to ensure that the studios will always have several choices to distribute their productions in the United States. In short, she wonders about the potential monopoly practices of the Japanese giant. Another point that will be widely studied by the American justice department, the activities of Crunchyroll in the field of the publication of manga and the organization of conventions. Indeed, justice fears that Sony may eventually dominate the sector too widely.

Six months to study the issue

According to The Information, US regulators still intend to take the time to assess the issue from all angles. For more than six months, they will study the impact that such an agreement could have on the industry, before validating or not this buyout. For their part, Sony and Warner Media are trying to highlight the limited influence of the animation sector in the film industry. They explain that the choices for Japanese animation studios will be many, at a time when Netflix and Amazon Prime Video continue to expand their catalogs in this direction. They also ask that the genre be considered more globally, in that of animation for adults. As such, anime like Dragon Ball could therefore be in direct competition with series such as those imagined by Adult Swim. That would put Rick and morty or The simpsons on an equal footing with Sailor Moon for example. While it is still a niche, the genre of Japanese animation tends to grow. In 2019, a market study estimated it at no less than $ 24 billion, a record according to the Association for Japanese Animation. Demand also increased significantly during the pandemic. It remains to be seen from now on whether the arguments of Sony and Warner Media will convince American justice.

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