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WarnerMedia’s Crunchyroll to Acquire Majority Stake in Anime Distributor Viz Media Europe Group

Crunchyroll, the anime streaming-service division of WarnerMedia’s Otter Media, entered into a pact to become the majority owner of Viz Media Europe Group, the top anime distributor and manga publisher in Europe.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The agreement will bring together Crunchyroll’s global streaming platform with Viz Media Europe Group’s network of partners, distributors and licensees. Japanese publishing and media company the Hitotsubashi Group — which comprises Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions — will retain a minority stake in Viz Media Europe. Closing of the deal is contingent on certain conditions including required antitrust clearances.

Currently, about 60% of Crunchyroll’s revenue comes from North America. It’s looking to shift that to 50-50 between North America and the rest of the world in the next couple of years.

“This transaction between Crunchyroll and Viz Media will combine one of the major anime brands ex-Asia with a well-known and beloved manga and anime distributor,” Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves said in a statement. “Together, we aim to create connections for passionate anime fans across Europe and beyond.”

Kazuyoshi Takeuchi, CEO of Viz Media Europe Group, added that the deal with Crunchyroll “will strengthen our position and future growth, adapting to changes in the dynamic Japanese animation industry and global business climate.”

Founded in 2006, Crunchyroll became a wholly owned part of Otter Media — now housed within AT&T’s WarnerMedia Entertainment group — after the telco bought out the Chernin Group’s majority stake in Otter last year.

Today, Crunchyroll has over 50 million registered users, including 2 million paying subscribers who have access to more than 1,000 licensed anime titles translated into eight languages. Original content, mostly from Crunchyroll’s studios in Tokyo and Los Angeles, will be joining the subscription VOD service soon. Crunchyroll also produces 180 events in 18 countries each year and sells consumer products, publishes games and provides a manga app with new titles updated regularly.

Viz Media Europe Group is comprised of Viz Media Europe (VME), AV Visionen, Anime Versand and Viz Media Switzerland (VMS), The company supplies content to TV broadcasters and VOD platforms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Viz Media Europe Group has distributed more than 40,000 hours of animation in over 100 countries. It launched the Anime on Demand (AoD) service in 2007 as the first legal streaming platform in Germany for anime and operates Anime Digital Network (ADN), in partnership with Média-Participations, a French platform dedicated to anime.

In addition, Viz Media Europe Group provides theatrical distribution for anime films in Europe and event screenings (Kazé Anime Night) in German-speaking territories. In addition, Viz Media Europe manages consumer product licensing, brand management and retail development for all categories in EMEA, and has manga publishing and DVD home entertainment distribution.

Nobuhiro Oga, senior managing director of Shogakukan, said that with the deal between Crunchyroll and Viz Media Europe, “we intend to introduce even more of our works and better service to our European fans.”

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