Crunchyroll has announced a major step toward creating a new distribution channel for anime content by entering into a strategic initiative with Japanese Anime industry leaders, TV TOKYO Corporation ("TV TOKYO"), SHUEISHA Inc. ("Shueisha") and Pierrot Co., Ltd. ("Pierrot")--collectively producers of many of the most popular anime titles of all time.
Crunchyroll is the world's largest anime-focused content and social networking service, and with this partnership, is making a decisive transition from a platform for user-uploaded content to a platform for professionally-produced content.
The first program to launch will be NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, the most popular anime title by the trio of producers. Beginning January 8, 2009, Crunchyroll will offer episodes of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN series, as well as a lineup of other blockbuster anime titles, as a "simulcast" for the first time immediately following it's broadcast in Japan. Crunchyroll's online community of 4.6 million users will be able to access the content in both subscription streaming and advertising-supported services.
One objective of the partnership is to combat online piracy. "Crunchyroll's goal has been to provide a fully legitimate viewing platform so that anime fans can access the most popular titles in a timely manner from Japan via an authorized outlet. We are redesigningthe site to ensure that all professionally-produced content is approved by licensors. This partnership with TV TOKYO, Shueisha and Pierrot is great validation for online distribution", said Kun Gao, CEO of Crunchyroll. "By providing more viewing options to fans and closing the release gap with domestic broadcast in Japan, Crunchyroll helps fans satisfy their craving for the latest anime while supporting rights holders' efforts to monetize their content. This is a very exciting time to be an anime fan!"
"We understand that digital distribution is important in keeping our overseas fans happy and engaged with our titles", states Mr. Soichiro Hashi, General Manager for TV TOKYO's Animation Business, speaking on behalf of the three Tokyo-based partners. "We are listening to the needs of our overseas fan base and they clearly want to have access to titles earlier. We hope our online offering will increase legitimate viewing of our titles while making sure our worldwide fan-base is content as we attempt to fulfill the growing need for quality anime titles. Crunchyroll is an ideal partner for us because we both specialize in anime. Together, we will cater to an audience that will appreciate and support all the hard work of the creators and animators."