After eight months of negotiations, Sony Pictures Entertainment completed its more than $1.1 billion acquisition of Crunchyroll, one of the world’s largest anime-streaming services, from AT&T via purchase using the Funimation Global Group name.
Along with its initial plans to pair the Crunchyroll brand and streaming library with the pre-existing offerings that the company has with the Funimation brand, Sony could potentially add Crunchyroll as a bonus for PlayStation Plus subscribers, too.
It’s not uncommon for PS Plus users to receive bonus content as a form of reward for paying for the service. These typically include a handful of free titles, additional discounts on the PlayStation Store, and the occasional extended free trial for streaming services like Spotify or Apple TV+. Both Crunchyroll and Funimation trials have previously been offered to PS Plus subscribers, too.
SPE chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra already confirmed that one of Sony’s main goals following the acquisition is “to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.” But that’s just the first step, according to Eurogamer and other sources.
Rumors have been circulating for months about how Sony purchasing Crunchyroll could be another move to broaden the company’s presence in the anime industry and provide another piece of content for an expanded subscription service in the future.
This could potentially be Sony’s way to create a similar but different service to match Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass using Crunchyroll, Funimation, and other media properties. Eurogamer said this could be a more expensive, premium PS Plus offering, kind of like how Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundles in the Xbox Live Gold services for a higher price while offering more features.
Sony currently offers a bundle of 20 PS4 titles for PS Plus subscribers on PS5 called the PS Plus Collection. A new service called PS Plus Video Pass was leaked earlier this year too, which will reportedly let users access SPE films like Venom and Zombieland: Double Tap.
A potential premium bundle that includes all the PS Plus subscriber benefits, the PS Plus Collection, PS Plus Video Pass, a combined anime streaming library from Crunchyroll and Funimation, and maybe even Sony’s PS Now game’s streaming service could provide Sony with the Game Pass model that fans have been asking for.