VRV, a digital streaming service available in the U.S., has completed a deal that changes its ownership. The company, founded in 2016, is owned by Crunchyroll, an anime video service. Crunchyroll was previously owned by AT&T Inc.
The deal that was first announced in December of 2020 has been officially been completed as of this week. The new owner of VRV and Crunchyroll is Funimation Global Group, LLC. Funimation is a jointly-owned venture of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Aniplex, a Japanese subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.
How much was the VRV acquisition?
AT&T has sold Crunchyroll for $1.175 billion in cash from Funimation Global Group. The deal was subject to customary working capital and other adjustments, and the proceeds were paid in cash at closing. Variety pointed out that AT&T needed to find ways to pay down its debt, and this sale would help achieve that goal.
After announcing the completion of the acquisition on Aug. 9, Tony Vinciquerra stated that Sony had the goal to “create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.” Previously, he was the chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group and worked with Texas Pacific Group in the technology, media, and telecom sectors.
Since 2017, Vinciquerra has been the chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. In 2017, Sony Pictures Television also bought a controlling stake in Funimation.
What will happen to VRV?
VRV will likely continue along its trajectory under the new ownership of Funimation. The entertainment service includes anime, speculative fiction, comedy, fantasy, and gaming-oriented channels. Crunchyroll is a channel offered in VRV, and VRV also has a standalone service.
Over 20,000 hours of free content are available on VRV. Its paid content is available with a subscription to VRV Premium and includes exclusive channels Cartoon Hangover, MONDO, HIDIVE, Rooster Teeth, and VRV Select.
“With the addition of Crunchyroll, we have an unprecedented opportunity to serve anime fans like never before and deliver the anime experience across any platform they choose, from theatrical, events, home entertainment, games, streaming, linear TV — everywhere and every way fans want to experience their anime,” stated Vinciquerra.
Where can you access VRV?
Funimation buys Crunchyroll
Crunchyroll is a direct-to-consumer anime service that currently has over 5 million SVOD (subscription video on demand) subscribers. Funimation’s number of subscriptions hasn’t been disclosed.
The acquisition of Crunchyroll by Funimation will allow both services to “broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers,” AT&T and Sony said in an announcement regarding the deal. Sony will be able to focus on a broader selection of anime streaming products.
AT&T will continue to focus on its connectivity business rather than media. Recently, AT&T also merged WarnerMedia with Discovery to create a separate company. According to a Sony press release, AT&T plans to reach a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA under 2.5x by the end of 2023, and the proceeds of this sale will go towards that end.