On December 13, Newsweek published an interview with Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga. During the conversation, Fukunaga discussed the recent termination of a content sharing deal between Funimation and Crunchyroll, the publisher’s relationship with Sony, and plans for the organization’s future.
In regards to the agreement with Crunchyroll, Fukunaga explained that the publisher aims to expand globally. Under the agreement with Crunchyroll, though, Funimation was forbidden from streaming in specific regions. Newsweek notes that Funimation parent Sony Pictures Television Networks felt that these conditions made the deal impossible.
Fukunaga explained that they did try to renew their agreement with Crunchyroll, though “there were some terms that they would not give on that we really had to have, to have a longer-term renewal with them.” He added that Crunchyroll wouldn’t change their stance on the terms, adding that “… Sony had to make this tough decision: if they weren’t going to budge on those terms, then we just have to double down and decide if we’re going to go at it alone. And that’s what happened.”
The current partnership with Hulu doesn’t have this same restriction, and Fukunaga describes the partnership as an “output-style deal.” He notes that “[Hulu] have their own anime base and this will help us co-buy content, and bid for the bigger titles.” Moreover, he argues that the deal will lead to increased exposure among the mass, and drive subscribers to Funimation’s platforms. “It was a good partnership in that sense and we can co-exist. And that’s why it works for us.”
Going forward, Fukunaga stated that expects bidding wars to return between Funimation and Crunchyroll, explaining that “[w]hen we start bidding on new titles, whoever wins those bids will obviously get exclusivity […] It will become an issue where we’re bidding for exclusivity for the sub and dub. That’s important for [us] to get that exclusivity, and global rights.”
For the time being, though, the two companies will continue to work together on titles they’ve co-licensed. Funimation will distribute titles they worked on for Crunchyroll, and content produced will remain on both platforms.
In October 2017, Funimation announced that they were purchased by Sony Pictures Television. On October 9, the publisher exited a two-year content sharing agreement with Crunchyroll, which saw all of Funimation’s content removed from the platform, and vice versa.
On December 4, Funimation and Hulu announced that they entered into an exclusive first-look content agreement, which grants Hulu the first pick on all of Funimation’s upcoming titles.