The market for Japanese animation has been growing fast over the past year with multiple streaming services increasing their libraries with the popular style of animation and story telling. Sony has taken notice of the popularity and seems to have its eyes set on the Anime service Crunchyroll. According to Reuters the Sony is offering over 950 million dollars to buy the service from AT&T in order to begin to build out a bigger digital and streaming presence that would provide income besides things like TV’s or appliances.
Reuters also mentions that Sony may look to add other material to the service in order to highlight its own studios content. If you have not heard of Crunchyroll you are probably not a fan of Japanese animation. But the genre has lots of fans. Crunchyroll has 70 million customers worldwide. Though there is not information as to just how many of them are paying customers vs users who access free content.
The gambit would bring in a short term profit for AT&T, which of course has its own major streaming plans including two paid AT&T branded services and its new HBO Max streaming service. But would the sale be a mistake? HBO Max has far less than 70 million subscribers. And AT&T TV Now doesn’t even crack 5 million subs. The market for this kind of entertainment is growing and while AT&T has been aggressively selling off smaller properties in order to simplify its digital footprint this could be one that comes back to bite them. HBO Max has a specific appeal and will likely grow as more original material rolls out for the service, but to give up on 70 million customers which means loosing contact with 70 million people seems like an insanely short sided idea.
Five years from now AT&T may well have to spend that money just to get in front of 70 million eyeballs.