According to Funimation's CEO, Gen Fukunaga, the attempt to maintain a deal between his company fell apart due to stubbornness. The streaming landscape for anime changed dramatically with the announcement that Funimation and Crunchyroll would no longer be working together to distribute the latest anime series, though no one knew the exact reasons why.
Funimation and Crunchyroll announced that they would be parting ways last month. The two companies had previously had a cross-platform licensing partnership that allowed either platform access to the other’s anime catalog, as well as the ability to jointly license new series. The breakup has already removed dozens of titles from the services. This comes as other major streaming services like Netflix and Amazon seek to establish and grow their own shares of the anime market via exclusive streaming deals and original productions.
According to Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga, who recently made headlines for his criticism of Netflix’s handling of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Crunchyroll would not yield to a less restrictive arrangement. "We did try to renew with [Crunchyroll], but there were some terms [...] that we really had to have, to have a longer-term renewal with them," explained Fukunaga in a recent interview with Newsweek interview. "And they wouldn’t budge, and we couldn’t renew on those terms." The dissolution of the agreement between the two companies will have delayed effects with streaming during the current anime season remaining unaffected and the winter season beginning next month staying mostly intact. Going forward, the two will be disentangling their respective series and moving all future streaming to their own platforms.
The main sticking point in the negotiations between the two companies came down to streaming restrictions. Funimation had previously agreed that it would not stream in certain parts of the world, essentially ceding those areas to Crunchyroll’s streaming service. That arrangement has been mutually beneficial for the past two years, but Sony Pictures Television Networks, which bought Funimation in 2017, found it unacceptable for the long-term plan of growing the platform. "Sony had to make this tough decision," explained Fukunaga, "if they weren’t going to budge on those terms, then we just have to double down and decide if we’re going to go at it alone. And that’s what happened."
These new details definitely clear the air a bit. Even though the split was announced a month ago, some anime fans held out hope that an agreement could still be reached. That Funimation’s CEO felt comfortable enough about the solidity of the company’s plans to speak about the negotiating process while throwing some subtle shade toward Crunchyroll puts the final nail in that coffin. Instead, it seems that Funimation has teamed up with Hulu to stream a selection of current anime dubs in the coming years. This leaves die-hard anime fans in a bit of a tricky position when it comes to finding just one home that caters to all of their anime, but perhaps the competition will lead to more high quality original series to lure viewers between platforms.