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Chernin Group Takes Majority Stake in Anime Website Crunchyroll

The Chernin Group, the media company headed by former News Corp. exec Peter Chernin, announced Monday it has acquired a majority stake in anime video-streaming site Crunchyroll — which TCG will use as an anchor to expand into different genres.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but sources said the investment values Crunchyroll at less than $100 million. Chernin Group had been in discussions for the last several weeks to acquire a controlling stake Crunchyroll, as previously reported by Variety.

Crunchyroll’s senior management will maintain a stake in the company along with existing investor TV Tokyo, a Japanese media company. Crunchyroll has offices in San Francisco, L.A. and Tokyo, and has nearly 300,000 paying subscribers for its video-on-demand service.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the future,” Peter Chernin said in a statement. “Our plan is to continue to grow the anime vertical as well as launch new channels in different genres. Online video is growing faster than any other sector within media, and we feel that with Crunchyroll, we have a fantastic, anchor platform.”

Kun Gao, founder and CEO of Crunchyroll, called Chernin Group the perfect partner. “We decided to work with TCG based on their passion for the online video space, expertise in media, understanding of creative content and strong track record of growing businesses,” Gao said in a prepared statement. “This investment from TCG will allow us to provide an even better experience and service for anime producers and fans worldwide.”

Crunchyroll raised $4.05 million in first-round funding in 2008 from TV Tokyo and other investors including Venrock, the venture-capital arm of the Rockefeller family. “We welcome The Chernin Group to the Crunchyroll family and look forward to working with them and Crunchyroll management to continue this fantastic ride,” Yukio Kawasaki, general manager of the animation division of TV Tokyo, said in a statement.

Chernin Group’s assets include Chernin Entertainment, which produces feature films and TV programs; a majority stake in Hong Kong-based media and entertainment company CA Media; and several strategic investments in digital media companies, which have included Pandora, Fullscreen, Base79, MiTú, Tumblr, Flipboard and Scopely.

Currently, Crunchyroll hosts more than 25,000 episodes and 15,000 hours of anime, Korean drama and live-action titles licensed from top Asian media producers, translated into multiple languages. The service is available on Crunchyroll.com and other platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android, Apple TV, PlayStation3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Roku.

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