The US Department of Justice has gotten involved in Sony’s deal to buy Crunchyroll and merge it with their anime streaming service Funimation.
According to The Information, The Department has concerns about whether the purchase limits Japanese studios looking to licence shows in the US. Three sources spoke to the media outlet and revealed a little more on the subject.
Both Crunchyroll and Funimation are subscriber based streaming services focused on anime entertainment. Aside from Funimation, Sony does not currently own any streaming services in the US. This makes the merge that much more important, as it would give Sony all the control over the already-niche anime market. The Information reported,
“AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Sony have told the Justice Department that Crunchyroll and Sony’s budding anime empire are just two of many options anime creators have to distribute their shows outside Japan. Those options include giants Amazon and Netflix as well as Hulu and Hidive, a new anime-focused streaming service launched in 2017.”
After The Department of Justice extended it’s review last week, the company has cause for concern that they will not consider anime distinct from animation as a whole, which would expand the field into more mainstream animated series’. Fans aren’t buying what Sony is selling though, so it remains to be seen what the DOJ will choose to do.
Sony doesn’t know they fate of the merger as the DOJ’s review has now been extended, “the review could take six months or longer, and that if the department does not approve the merger, it could sue to block it.” This leaves the major media company stuck with their hands tied while they sit and wait while the government thoroughly stalls the project. If the DOJ does decide to block it, “that could signal the agency is taking an aggressive stance toward entertainment deals under the Biden administration, potentially setting a bar for how much content in any one genre companies are permitted to control”, according to The Information.
There is no telling where Sony’s future in Anime lies. For now, Crunchyroll and Funimation still remain separate anime entities, so watch your anime whatever way works best for you!