The current pandemic has left me with more time on my hands than I had in years, so I kinda wanted to go back into writing (at least for a while). And the last week has given me more than sufficient material to work with.
For real, it's been years since the anime community has been shocked this much. And I remember writing about it last time as well: See this post.
So let's connect the dots, shall we?
Part 1: AT&T is in huge debt and wants to fix that
AT&T? What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well: everything! Back in 2018 AT&T purchased Otter media for the whopping sum of 1 billion dollars. The name Otter media may not ring a bell, but this is thé group that consisted of Crunchyroll, VRV, RoosterTeeth and a few others. This thus made AT&T the owner of Crunchyroll.
However, massive consecutive purchases and the Corona-crisis has left AT&T in a period of self-reflection to fix its massive debt situation. The company is 151 billion dollars in debt and needs HUGE restructuring in order to get it back into shape. Earlier messages confirmed that most of the staff of DC Comics (another subsidiary of AT&T) was fired and that the comic book industry will undergo a digital revolution (including stopping physical prints of single issues, stopping the DC Universe streaming service and other things).
Now, the old rumor of Crunchyroll being for sale has turned into pure facts. AT&T wants to sell Crunchyroll for 1 billion dollars or more and sees in Sony an ideal purchasing "partner". However, AT&T is trying to milk as much money out of this deal as possible, resulting in some bickering back and forth.
AT&T originally wanted 1.5 billion dollars, Sony balked at the price, and now they're talking with multiple partners about a sale price. Who these "other partners" are, is not revealed and may even be pure speculation/fiction to drive up the price. But I guess we'll hear more about this in the future, since deals like this can take months to complete (if not years).
Part 2: Kissanime has closed its doors
Huge news came this past weekend when fans had to read the news that Kissanime and its content servers were taken down by copyright owners.
This news does not come out of nowhere. Back in June, Japan reinforced its copyright protection laws and made it easier to strike towards people who upload copyright protected works (anime, manga, magazines, books and other forms of media or academic papers). This clearly gave copyright owners the right tools to finally go after sites who provide streams and downloads of anime, like Kissanime. It has been one of the biggest thorns in their side for the past decade, so it obviously had the biggest target on its back.
But it's also obvious that they won't stop there. (in)Famous anime torrent site Nyaa had survived its earlier takedown which I reported on a few years ago (that post aged horribly, considering it bounced back a week later or so). But with the takedown of Kissanime, I think it's safe to say that Nyaa will probably be next on the radar of the copyright owners.
Let's not beat around the bush: The intent of the Japanese copyright owners is to eliminate fansubs and especially end groups that steal legal streams and spread them as their own (most notoriously offenders being Horriblesubs and Kissanime).
Will this work? That is a big question. Prior famous takedowns of Piratebay and Nyaa have not really worked, since alternative sites quickly take its place. But takedowns of "content sharing services" like MegaUpload, Rapidshare, Limewire, and others have worked. It all depends on how much of a witch hunt the copyright owners are willing to go on. With the Japanese law now at their sides, we may see a notable change in how anime is "shared" in the future.
And on that note...
Part 3: YouTube channel AnimeLog will host anime legally
Link to the channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsnDtu-g18tDA4miToMOjXQ/videos
Toei Animation, Kodansha, Nippon Animation, Tezuka Productions, Shogakukan-Shueisha productions and Shinei Animation have banded together, and together with an influx from American money will make anime legal for viewing on YouTube. This American money being Benjamin Grubbs and the investment venture Next10 Venture.
While the first uploads will be exclusive to Japan, the uploaded titles will eventually get subbed into multiple languages (including English, obviously).
What content is going to uploaded is still up to question. But most likely it's older anime (like Black Jack and Astroboy which are present in the banner), and family-friendly anime (I've read things like Doraemon, Shin-Shan and others).
Now the big question as to WHY and why now? Simple: Combating piracy. One of the few valid remarks that the internet had on Kissanime's existence is "preservation of older titles". Titles that aren't on streaming services and where the content is out of print or very hard to find. This can fix that issue. And if it's successful, maybe even more in the future. There's a huge library of anime that can be added.
But a few questions remain.
Question: Will EVERY anime title in existence appear on here? No, definitely not. The bigger titles are just too profitable to sell through distributors instead of YouTube ads. While I'd love to see more titles on here, it's obviously not going to go that fast.
Question: Is this the end for Crunchyroll and Funimation? No, definitely not. However, in the case AnimeLog becomes a success, both may see their catalog shrink over time (not immediately).
On Funimation's side, I think it's noteworthy to mention that one of the production companies absent from the AnimeLog description is Sony/Aniplex. They own Funimation and they clearly do not want to be part of this YouTube endeavor (yet). So it's safe to say that the amount of Aniplex/Cloverworks titles on this channel will be limited, if any at all. Funimation dubs will not be present either. So if you think about it, regardless of AnimeLog's success, this will have little to no impact on Funimation's business.
Crunchyroll on the other end? Not in the beginning, at least. Crunchyroll focuses more on new titles, which sure aren't going to appear here (yet). However, if this channel does become a success, Crunchyroll's catalog may take a hit over time, as licenses may no longer be renewed. We've already seen a lot of titles disappear from CR very recently. And if AnimeLog becomes a success and becomes larger, I wouldn't be surprised if more were to follow in the coming months and/or years.
And with a lot of titles disappearing from the service over time, what is left for them? The Netflix method: Branding yourself with original content with the Crunchyroll Originals. If Crunchyroll can host many original titles that will not appear on AnimeLog, it will secure its own future.
On that note: let's circle back to Part 1 of this post: If AnimeLog becomes a success and becomes the future for anime streaming, is Crunchyroll still worth more than 1 billion dollar? I think most people would agree it is not. However, this is a speculative area, and I doubt things will go that fast overall, and thus very unlikely the value would drop very fast (I'd be surprised).
Also, why is Sony/Aniplex is seriously bidding for Crunchyroll right now? This is because they want more exclusive content to stand strong against any challenger in the current Streaming wars.
One final question: WILL AnimeLog become a success? Only time will tell. Daisuki wasn't the greatest success (though that may have been because Aniplex/Sony bailed on them), but maybe this will be the future of streaming. We'll see what happens.
For now, the best we can do is subscribe to AnimeLog and watch the content they provide when it becomes available in your country. If we all partake in this, AnimeLog may become the success that everybody hopes it will be.
Always remember: Because moe
Bonus question! With Kissanime gone, where can I watch anime legally? One address: because.moe. No, really! Because.moe is the anime streaming search engine. Select your region (limited to US/CAN/UK/AUS), type in your title and follow the link they provide in the icons.
Note: If you live outside of the mentioned regions and some links leads to the classic: "not available in your region", try scouring through Yatta-Tachi's ultimate list of streaming sites for alternatives. There sadly isn't a fix-all for everybody worldwide, but I can only hope that AnimeLog will fix that at least somewhat in the future.
That's it from me at this moment.
Edit: Also, on a side-note: there's already a fake Animelog channel out there, and I of course had linked to that one first. God dammit all! this caused a few structural changes to the post. Sorry for that.