Sony Pictures TV Networks are planning on acquiring the majority of Funimation’s stakes in a new upcoming deal.
The new deal will have Sony Pictures TV Networks paying $143 million for 95% of the anime distributor Funimation Productions. The Japanese anime giant distributor has many great properties within its massive catalogue that include renowned and legendary series such as Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Attack on Titan, Cowboy Bebop, and My Hero Academia, in addition to movies such as the likes of Akira, Your Name, Ghost In The Shell and many others based on popular series.
Funimation as a company operates within the U.S, licensing and distributing both anime and live action properties. Additionally, the company also provides users with a service called FunimationNow, which with its recent partnership with Crunchyroll provides anime fans with one of the best ways to legally stream, high-quality anime.
The company first got its start in 1994, with Japanese born businessman Gen Fukunaga. When his uncle Nagafumi Hori was working for Toei Animation, Hori approached Gen about a prospect in licensing out the rights for Dragon Ball to the United States. Eventually, Fukanaga met with co-worker Daniel Cocanougher who happened to own a feed mill in Decatur, Texas, Gen convinced Cocanougher to sell his family business and invest in Funimation.
Fast forward to 2005, Funimation was then acquired by the now defunct Navarre Corporation for an impressive $US 100.4 million in cash, with an additional 1.8 million in shares of Navarre stock. Since then the company went on to acquire the rights from the likes Geneon and ADV, big name anime distributors.
In 2016, in addition to expanding outside of North America for the first time, Funimation announced a new partnership with Crunchyroll. The new deal allowed cross pollination from the two anime streaming giants which effectively increased both their catalogs substantially.
Andy Kaplan, President of Worldwide Networks at Sony Pictures Television had this to say,
“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 acquiring the majority of Funimation should prove to be a great boon for both companies, as Sony has the power to really push the company forward with its already strong foothold in the entertainment sphere, and Funimation can continue to thrive as one of the best options for watching anime, outside of Japan.