The deal giving The Chernin Group a majority stake in Crunchyroll is a hedged bet on the future of anime — a genre that has a broad fan base but a mixed record for generating profits. Chernin Twitter copyPeter Chernin says that he intends to “continue to grow the anime vertical” online. But he adds that his company also will “launch new channels in different genres,” noting that Crunchyroll_logoWeb video “is growing faster than any other sector within media” and that Crunchyroll provides “a fantastic, anchor platform.” The company has ad-supported and subscription online services targeted to more than 160 countries. It aims to be the destination of choice for anime fans; in addition to videos it offers e-commerce, news, and social media features. The companies didn’t say how much Chernin is spending, but note that Crunchyroll’s senior management “will maintain a significant stake” as will TV TOKYO. Once a haven for pirated anime, in 2009 Crunchyroll dedicated itself to cutting legitimate licensing deals with content owners. But anime providers struggled as DVD sales diminished, and some fans turned their attention to Hollywood blockbusters that feature sci-fi themes and superheroes. That’s taken a toll on companies such as 4Kids Productions, Bandai Entertainment, and Tokyopop. Still, Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao says that anime remains “at the heart of our company.” The Chernin investment “will allow us to provide an even better experience and service for anime producers and fans worldwide.”

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