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Sony’s Funimation Taps Ex-Crunchyroll Exec Colin Decker as GM (EXCLUSIVE)

Anime network and distributor Funimation has a new general manager: Colin Decker, who was once a senior executive at Crunchyroll, Funimation’s chief rival.

Sony Pictures Television appointed Decker as GM after Funimation founder Gen Fukunaga relinquished day-to-day management duties earlier this year to move into a chairman role. On an interim basis, Decker will report to both Mike Hopkins, chairman of Sony Pictures Television, and Fukunaga (who continues to report to Hopkins).

SPT in July 2017 acquired a 95% majority stake in Funimation for $143 million with Fukunaga retaining a minority stake. Fukunaga founded Funimation in 1994.

Decker’s experience as chief operating officer of Crunchyroll clearly was attractive to Sony Pictures Television, which wants to boost the scale of the FunimationNow subscription-streaming service. FunimationNow is a “cornerstone of SPT’s direct-to-consumer strategy to super-serve niche, highly engaged audiences,” according to Hopkins.

“Adding Colin’s leadership, experience in emerging media and proven track record of success to the mix is an exciting next step for Funimation,” Hopkins said in a statement. He also gave a shout-out to Fukunaga, whom he said “is widely regarded as the dean of anime in the U.S.,” and thanked him for “his willingness to guide us through this period of transition in his new role as chairman.”

Decker officially started at Funimation on Monday. Most recently, he was COO of Within, the L.A.-based VR startup headed by director Chris Milk. Before that, he was COO of Crunchyroll, responsible for the subscription VOD service’s overall strategy and execution, which he joined in 2016 after serving as GM of Discovery Digital Networks. Decker has also held executive management and strategic partnership roles at Rooftop Media and Yahoo and was an early employee at Al Gore and Joel Hyatt’s Current TV.

“Funimation has been a market leader for over two decades, growing anime from a small community of dedicated fans into the global phenomenon that it is today,” Decker said in a statement provided by SPT.

Funimation currently offers FunimationNow in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, priced starting at $5.99 per month (or $59.99 for a one-year subscription). The Funimation catalog includes more than 600 shows, providing more than 10,000 hours of subbed and dubbed programming.

Last fall, Funimation 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. Then in late 2018, Funimation reached an exclusive first-look pact with Hulu, where Hopkins had most recently been CEO. Under that deal, Hulu is distributing new titles licensed and produced by Funimation.

Last month, voice actor Vic Mignogna, who formerly voiced Broly in the “Dragon Ball” anime franchise, sued Funimation and other voice actors, alleging he was falsely accused of inappropriate behavior including sexual harassment. Funimation has not commented on the lawsuit.

In addition to Funimation, anime-related businesses in Sony’s portfolio include SPT’s Animax satellite TV network and Sony Music Entertainment Japan’s Aniplex, which produces anime, music, and games. According to SPT, under the Hopkins and Decker regime, Funimation will seek out collaboration opportunities among the various anime businesses within Sony.

Meanwhile, in March Sony Pictures Television sold a majority stake in Crackle, its free, ad-supported video service, to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSS Entertainment).

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