Sony’s Funimation Acquires U.K. Anime Distributor Manga Entertainment

Sword Art Online - Manga Entertainment
Courtesy of Manga Entertainment

Funimation, as part of its expansion push under Sony Pictures Television’s ownership, acquired Manga Entertainment, a London-based distributor of anime titles in the U.K. and Ireland.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Funimation will merge Manga’s business with the Funimation U.K. home entertainment business and will begin distributing many shows in the Manga catalog to subscribers of the FunimationNow streaming service in the U.K. and Ireland.

Title available immediately include “Sword Art Online” season 1 (pictured above), “Akira,” “Ghost in the Shell: Innocence,” “A Certain Magical Index” (the movie and seasons 1 & 2), “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (seasons 1 & 2), “Bayonetta (The Movie): Bloody Fate,” “Casshern Sins,” “Samurai Warriors” season 1, “Soul Eater Not!,” “Summer Wars,” “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” and “Wolf Children.” Additional Manga titles slated to come to Funimation in the U.K. and Ireland in the next several months include series “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and “Naruto Shippuden.”

With the acquisition, Manga — previously a long-term Funimation partner — will have a catalog of more than 900 hours of subtitled and dubbed anime content, which Sony Pictures TV says is the biggest lineup of anime titles in the U.K. and Ireland.

Funimation currently offers FunimationNow in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. In the U.K./Ireland, the Premium Plus subscription costs £4.99 per month or £49.99 per year. In November 2018, FunimationNow became the first Sony Pictures Television service to launch on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels in the U.K.

“Together with the Manga team, Funimation will bring its fan-first omnichannel approach to serving anime fans – engaging with them directly through the widest array of touchpoints,” Mitchel Berger, VP of sales and distribution for Funimation, said in a statement.

Manga Entertainment, founded in 1987, specializes in the licensing, marketing and distribution of Japanese animation as well as other pop-culture brands like “Halo,” “Transformers: The Movie 30th Anniversary Edition,” “Pokemon” and “Yu-Gi-Oh!”

“On behalf of Manga Entertainment, we’re thrilled to join Funimation and their expanding global business,” commented Jerome Mazandarani, managing director of Manga Entertainment. “We’re excited for the new opportunities that lie ahead and to serve anime fans in the U.K. and Ireland in a bigger way than ever before.”

All told, Funimation’s catalog comprises over 600 titles, representing over 10,000 hours of subbed and dubbed anime. Sony Pictures Television in July 2017 acquired a 95% majority stake in Funimation for $143 million with Funimation founder Gen Fukunaga retaining a minority stake.

Earlier this month, SPT named Colin Decker, who was once a senior executive at Funimation rival Crunchyroll, as its general manager after Fukunaga stepped back from day-to-day management to move into a chairman role.

In the U.S., Funimation last fall ended its cross-licensing deal with Crunchyroll, which is owned by AT&T’s Otter Media, so that Funimation could offer both subtitled and dubbed anime. And in late 2018, Funimation reached an exclusive first-look pact with Hulu, under which Hulu is distributing new titles licensed and produced by Funimation.