Crunchyroll Hires Colin Decker, Former Discovery Digital GM, as COO (EXCLUSIVE)

Crunchyroll, the anime video-subscription service owned by AT&T and Chernin Group, has hired Colin Decker as chief operating officer.

In the newly created role at Crunchyroll, Decker reports to CEO and co-founder Kun Gao. Among the projects Decker has in his sights: developing original anime series, launching live Crunchyroll events and conventions, and expanding merchandise.

San Francisco-based Crunchyroll now has more than 750,000 subscribers paying $6.95 per month or $11.95 monthly for VIP-level membership. Some of the service’s content also is available for free, with ads.

“Crunchyroll really stands out because of their deep relationship with the anime audience,” Decker said. “They have really written the book on a service that puts fans first.” He said Crunchyroll is interested in developing original programming, but he wouldn’t offer details.

Most recently, Decker was senior VP and GM of Discovery Digital Networks, the cabler’s online-video division, before exiting in January. He was replaced by Suzanne Kolb, former president of NBCUniversal’s E! Entertainment.

Prior to joining Discovery in 2012, Decker worked at Virgin Investments as a senior adviser for media and telecom, and before that was head of programming for Rooftop Media (now part of Amazon). Earlier in his career, he held positions at Yahoo and Current TV. Decker currently is an adviser to Tubular Labs and is on the board of the Global Online Video Association.

As Crunchyroll’s COO, Decker is in charge of revenue, operations, strategy, marketing and brand expansion. “The big focus going forward, the next chapter, is really looking at the core differentiators that make Crunchyroll different, and accelerate revenue and reach,” Decker said. “We have an opportunity to increase Crunchyroll as a lifestyle brand.”

Crunchyroll, founded in 2006 by Gao and fellow UC Berkeley grad Brandon Ooi, has about 200 employees. Chernin Group acquired a majority stake in the company in 2013; the company is now part of Otter Media, the joint venture formed by Chernin Group and AT&T, in the its Ellation group focused on subscription VOD businesses. The Crunchyroll service is available in 160 countries (although most of its titles are unavailable in Japan because of licensing restrictions).

“What does make us unique from somebody like Netflix is that we have 750,000 fans who would wear a Crunchyroll T-shirt,” Decker said. “Our subscribers are part of a community, and their passion for the service is orders of magnitude above a mass-market SVOD service.”

Crunchyroll offers more than 25,000 episodes and 15,000 hours of content licensed from Asian media producers directly to viewers translated professionally in multiple languages within minutes of TV broadcast. The service offers paying subs access to brand-new episodes of current series as soon as one hour after they air on Japanese TV.

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