Hulu Lands grants first look at Funimation for Japanese animated series

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Hulu Doubles The Anime: The streamer, in its biggest contract for anime programming to date, signed an exclusive first-look pact with Funimation to distribute new titles licensed and produced by Funimation starting in 2019.

The new deal comes after Sony Pictures Television-owned Funimation ended its cross-licensing deal with rival Crunchyroll earlier this fall.

As part of the new multi-year pact between Hulu and Funimation, Hulu obtains the first rights to the video-on-demand streaming rights in the United States for the animated series of Funimation. The deal will make Hulu and Funimation the co-exclusive destinations of certain new day-and-date captioned animated series with their Japanese broadcast premieres (and possibly dubbed versions as well).

Hulu’s plan is to get more than 20 seasons a year of simulcast new Japanese anime series, as well as dubbed versions, said Lisa Holme, vice president of content acquisition at Hulu.

“What this partnership brings us is the highest volume of high quality anime hits, date and date of their release in Japan,” said Holme. “We had great confidence in Funimation’s ability to execute – to get the biggest, best, loudest anime out there.”

Holme declined to identify which titles Hulu and Funimation were considering, saying auctions with Japanese animation studios are currently underway. But, she added, “We already have a couple of Funimation headlines on Hulu, and as far as they have future seasons, they are obvious targets.”

Under their existing agreement, Hulu and Funimation continue to be the only platforms in the United States to broadcast all of the subtitled and dubbed episodes of the best anime shows, including “Attack on Titan” (pictured below). above), “My Hero Academia” and “Tokyo Ghoul”.

The new deal “will fuel the acquisition of new titles and provide Funimation and Hulu subscribers with access to the best anime Japan has to offer,” said Gen Fukunaga, Founder and CEO of Funimation.

Funimation, through its streaming service FunimationNow, will offer access to the same anime titles that it makes available to Hulu. But the companies say they are targeting different types of anime fans, with Funimation targeting anime enthusiasts and Hulu targeting a wider market. “At the end of the day, we think the customer bases are different and complementary,” said Eric Berger, digital director of Sony Pictures Television and general manager of Sony Crackle. He noted that Funimation’s business also encompasses merchandise sales, live events, community features, and theatrical releases.

Last year, Sony Pictures Television acquired Funimation for $ 143 million. SPT has terminated its content contract with Crunchyroll, now 100% owned by AT & T’s Otter Media, to broadcast both captioned and dubbed cartoons. As part of their now-expired deal, Crunchyroll had offered subtitled versions and Funimation was providing dubbed versions of the same shows.

With the Hulu deal, “the beauty is that Funimation can now play bigger,” Berger said. “By acquiring titles for a bigger footprint, you can seek out stronger titles and ultimately be a better partner for anime studios in Japan.”

Funimation’s catalog includes over 600 shows, offering over 10,000 hours of captioned and dubbed programming. The FunimationNow service operates in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, priced at $ 5.99 per month (or $ 59.99 for a one-year subscription ).

All told, Hulu currently streams nearly 400 anime titles, which it says is the biggest anime lineup among non-anime streaming platforms. Shows on Hulu include “Naruto Shippuden”, “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations”, “One-Punch Man”, “Sailor Moon” and “Sword Art Online”.

It should be noted that Netflix has beefed up its portfolio of anime originals and recently ordered a live-action version of the anime classic “Cowboy Bebop”.

Anime continued to be an important content category for Hulu, serving to both attract and retain subscribers. “We assume that anime is a niche category, but we see that it is developing and that there is a cross between fans of anime and other genres,” Holme said.

In addition to its anime lineup, Hulu offers thousands of episodes of premium animated content. In the United States, it is the exclusive subscription broadcast house for shows such as “Bob’s Burgers”, “Family Guy”, “American Dad!”, “South Park”, “Rick and Morty”, “Robot Chicken “and” Adventure Time “.

Meanwhile, Hulu is set to become majority controlled by Disney, as part of Mouse House’s deal to buy 20th Century Fox, which includes Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu. Disney’s deal on Fox’s assets is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Founded in 1994, Funimation also acquires and distributes animated and live action films in North America. Its next theatrical release is “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” which is slated to hit theaters on January 16, 2019 in the United States and Canada.


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