Big News everyone! Sony Pictures is set to purchase the controlling stake of shares of Texas Based Company Funimation for a smooth $150 Million US Fun Bucks. If this deal is allowed by the Federal Trade Commission Sony will effectively own Funimation and have the majority votes among share holders. This means if Sony feels the brand\company branch is not preforming to expectations they can take many actions to correct it including: Firings and layoffs, replacing company management, closing of offices, liquidating assets and or licenses, eliminating distribution, raising prices of goods and services.
That is all the gloom and doom if this deal goes through and Sony decides to be evil (and yes they have a history of being evil). The flip side of this could also be a good thing for anime lovers. Funimation is a leader in North America for anime licensing, dubbing, physical distribution, and streaming. Sony Pictures is a Giant TV and film company and has many tentacles all over the entertainment industry here and around the world. Funimation could benefit with expanded anime to stream, sell and put on TV. Sony Could help push anime even more into the main stream Film and I would love to see that. But still I worry about this deal, as it could cause another fracture in the already clustered North American anime watching matrix. The inter-boards have been up in arms either supporting this or rejecting this action by Sony. I have attached the press release from Sony and the the information posts below from Funimation.
So Is the Sky falling in the anime Industry!? Funimation does not think so, at least that’s what their PR team is saying. Here is blog post response from them.
From the Funimation PR: Source ANN Forums
– Love the conversation! We couldn’t be more excited here in Texas at Funimation HQ! While there’s still much to be worked out, the big take away for everyone should be that Funimation knows anime and Sony Pictures Television Networks has the reach. Together we can expand the anime network, increase viewership and improve efficiency with the combined goal of creating anime experiences fans love and to deliver anime globally across all screens and platforms.
Everyone take a breath! We aren’t going anywhere.
HJay Hairston | Funimation Community Manager | Twitter: @JayHairston
The people over at Funimation seem pretty calm about this. Though I’m keeping my tin foil hat on for the time being, this deal might not occur if the FTC does not approve it.
Here is a copy of their post about it and below it the Official Sony press release that contains more info if your interested.
Blog post with FAQ From Funimation: Source
Founder Gen Fukunaga started Funimation with a vision and a mission to make anime as accessible as possible to fans across the world. In the 23 years since we began, we have been committed to creating anime experiences fans love: from bringing Dragon Ball to the U.S., to bringing the best anime to home video and theaters, to SimulDubs that bring episodes in English to fans within two weeks after they air in Japan, to the world’s largest dubbed streaming catalog on FunimationNow.
Today, we announced that Funimation has agreed to sell a substantial majority stake to Sony Pictures Television Networks (SPTN). SPTN is one of the preeminent names in entertainment, and shares our vision to deliver anime to fans globally across all screens and platforms.
You can read additional details on the press release here.
We know you have questions and we’ve answered some of them below. We encourage you to read these answers and thank you for your support and for watching!
Will the Funimation team change? Is this a partnership, merger or an acquisition? How is this acquisition related to Aniplex? What does this mean for your products and services? Will this delay the release of any content? Will this affect the production or quality of dubs coming from Funimation? Does this mean Funimation will be buying more or less anime? How does this affect my FunimationNow subscription? What does this mean for fans outside of the U.S.? Does this mean Funimation content will be available on Crackle or Playstation Vue? Does this change your Crunchyroll/VRV partnership?
Will the Funimation team change?
Currently, our plan is for Funimation to operate as it has to date. Gen will remain CEO, and the team will continue to deliver the best anime experiences we can to you.
Is this a partnership, merger, or an acquisition?
Funimation has agreed to sell a substantial majority stake to Sony Pictures Television Networks.
How is this acquisition related to Aniplex?
This transaction does not involve Aniplex.
What does this mean for your products and services?
Funimation remains committed to making our physical and digital products as accessible to fans as possible and we have no plans to change pricing and placement of our physical or digital product. FunimationNow will remain the same price and will be available in all of its current territories.
Will this delay the release of any content?
There will be no impact to our SimulDub, home video release or theatrical schedules.
Will this affect the production or quality of dubs coming from Funimation?
Funimation will always strive to honor the intent of the Japanese creators in our productions. There will be no changes to our translation, script writing, voice actors or production staff. We will be keeping our production facilities in Texas so we can continue to bring SimulDubs to you within two weeks of the Japanese broadcast date.
Does this mean Funimation will be buying more or less anime?
Funimation remains committed to bringing you the biggest and best English dubbed anime library, along with new seasons of SimulDubs within two weeks of their broadcast in Japan.
How does this affect my FunimationNow subscription?
The FunimationNow service remains the same – there will be no change in your subscription terms, pricing or content availability.
Does this mean Funimation content will be available on Crackle or Playstation Vue?
We have always tried to make our content accessible as widely as possible for our fans and will continue to do so. This does not change the FunimationNow service.
What does this mean for fans outside of the U.S.?
We are already delivering anime to fans in the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand through FunimationNow. Service to these regions will not change because of this deal.
Does this change your Crunchyroll/VRV partnership?
There are no changes to our existing partnership or to the content available from Funimation on either service. Crunchyroll will continue to broadcast subtitled simulcasts, and FunimationNow will continue to stream SimulDubs for most titles within two weeks after the shows original Japanese broadcast.
Official Press Release from Sony. Source
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SONY PICTURES TELEVISION NETWORKS TO ACQUIRE SUBSTANTIAL MAJORITY STAKE IN FUNIMATION
Culver City, Calif., July 31, 2017 – Sony Pictures Television Networks has reached an agreement to acquire a substantial majority stake in Japanese anime distributor Funimation Productions, Ltd., (“Funimation”), subject to regulatory approvals and certain other closing conditions, valuing the company at approximately $150 million. Gen Fukunaga, CEO of Funimation, will retain a minority stake in the business and remain CEO.
With a catalog that includes popular titles such as “Dragon Ball Z”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “One Piece”, “My Hero Academia” and “Attack on Titan”, Funimation licenses and distributes Japanese anime content in the U.S., and operates the subscription streaming service FunimationNOW, available via the PlayStation Store, iTunes Store, Google Play, Amazon Apps, Xbox Store and mobile devices. Additionally, the company sells merchandise and DVDs through its website, Funimation.com.
“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,” said Andy Kaplan, President, Worldwide Networks, Sony Pictures Television.
Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga added, “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.”
Outgoing Chairman of Funimation, John A Kuelbs, and lead investor, Doug Deason, said, “Funimation experienced tremendous growth and success since 2011. We believe Sony, Gen and his team are uniquely positioned to lead Funimation and its fans into an exciting and entertaining future.”
Sony Pictures Television Networks’ ANIMAX network is a multi-platform provider of Japanese anime content currently operating in 23 countries, including Japan.
Sony Pictures Television Networks operates established linear channel brands including AXN, Sony Channel, and ANIMAX, and digital brands including CRACKLE around the world, AXN Now in Europe and Asia, and Sony LIV in India.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Funimation along with Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP acting as exclusive legal advisor. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP acted as legal advisor to Sony Pictures Television Networks.
About Sony Pictures Television Networks
Sony Pictures Television Networks operates branded entertainment channels reaching nearly two billion subscribers around the world. Based in Culver City, Amsterdam, Budapest, London, Madrid, Miami, Milan, Moscow, Mumbai, Munich, Singapore and Tokyo, Sony’s linear and digital networks offer high quality film and television content from Sony Pictures and third-parties, as well as original content commissioned globally and locally. Sony Pictures Television Networks is a division of Sony Pictures Television Inc., a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
Funimation is the #1 English-language anime content provider in North America, which licenses, adapts and distributes anime content from Japanese rights holders internationally. Its catalog includes over 10,000 hours of content with rights to over 450 brands and provides dubbed and subbed anime across multiple channels. FunimationNOW, the Company’s streaming platform, is the leading North American English-language OTT anime platform.