Crunchyroll Pacts With Sumitomo for Anime Production

Crunchyroll, the Asian-flavored U.S. website, and Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corp. have announced a joint venture to produce original anime for international audiences.

The venture, announced Thursday on the final day of Tokyo’s Japan Content Showcase 2015, will invest in Japanese productions specifically aimed at overseas viewers.

Titles will be premiered on Crunchyroll’s video-on-demand (VoD) platform, a subscription and ad-supported service with over 700,000 monthly subscribers and 10 million monthly viewers, available in seven languages.

“We hope this will be a long term venture to invest in many future anime titles,” said Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao.
The San Francisco-based company is part of Ellation, Peter Chernin’s and AT&T’s video venture.

Sumitomo’s media division businesses include Jupiter Telecommunications (J:COM), Japan’s largest cable TV provider.
Long the dominant player in anime video streaming, Crunchyroll has faced increasing competition recently, including from Daisuki, a VoD service operated by a consortium of six Japanese anime producers that launched in 2013.

Gao told Variety that the venture with Sumitomo would provide a boost to Japanese producers hungry for overseas viewers.

“Many creators want to bring their content to a more global audience, but they are unsure how to do this,” he said. “Crunchyroll has incredible access to data and analytics about the general tastes of audiences globally.”

The venture will also use Crunchyroll’s social media presence to nurture ties between Japanese producers and their international fans.

“With this partnership, the voice of worldwide anime fans can reach anime production studios directly through the Crunchyroll platform,” said Iehisa Nakamura, general manager of Sumitomo’s media division.

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