This is important.
AT&T is rumored to be selling off it’s 10% stake in Hulu which just signed a deal with Funimation who had a bit of a divorce with AT&T of it’s own a couple of months back when the parent company for Crunchyroll ended the “we’ll have subtitled content you’ll get the dubs” deal with Funimation. This new deal with Funimation will see Hulu have a first-look deal for streaming rights of anime including for English dubs. The idea is that Funimation will cater to the hardcore anime audiences whereas Hulu is hoping to get some of a general audience. With the deal, Funimation can continue to chase larger anime intellectual property like Dragon Ball and Attack on Titan, two franchises that, today air on Adult Swim’s Toonami network.
Hulu wants 20 seasons a year of new anime in a better effort to compete against Netflix which is doing a solid job of their own in producing and acquiring anime. Hulu is already slated to get “Attack on Titan”, “My Hero Academia” and “Tokyo Ghoul” where they will be the exclusive 2nd window streaming home for some of the biggest IP in the world. This, of course, is a HUGE loss for Crunchyroll which now has to go out and build up it’s own franchises in hopes they get that big. Their recent deal in adapting Blade Runner could have been the pre-emptive strike to this deal.
The battle lines for what’s expected to be a $4 billion anime industry in the United States (and growing) have been drawn, and the biggest producer of English dubbed anime in the world is making sure it’s in it for the long run. This is a solid deal for both parties, and one that puts the onus on Netflix and AT&T to better compete in this arena. I love how Crackle, who has been getting a bunch of English dubs from Funimation as of late, pretty much got the shaft in this deal, though I expect lesser-known titles could still live here for archival purposes. For Japan, their largest exports now get busier, and I’ll be curious to see if Amazon attempts to get back in this arena sooner rather than later.