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Crunchyroll Carves Out Successful Place in Streaming World

Fern Siegel

Crunchyroll may be a model of how niche content translates into a successful strategy. The anime streaming service, which is producing shows for the upcoming HBO Max, hired two executives this week to head content strategy and gaming.

“Crunchyroll is a great example of something that could survive,” said Tom Nunan, cofounder of Bull’s Eye Entertainment and former NBC Studios president. “Niche is everything when it comes to non-library streaming plays,” he told The Wrap.

It currently reports 60 million users worldwide and 2 million paid subscribers, who spend $8 monthly for a premium ad-free version of the site.

The anime brand announced eight new series in late February that span the adventure-fantasy-historical fiction genres. These shows are produced with noted publishers, including Kodansha, and animation studios, such as MAPPA.

“Tower of God,” which premiered Wednesday, is based on the eponymous dark fantasy series.
The new 2020 Crunchyroll originals slate, debuting throughout this year, includes “In/Spectre,” a supernatural romance-mystery now airing, and “Onyx Equinox,” in which an Aztec boy saved from death by the gods becomes man’s champion.

The service debuted in 2006 as an online streamer for American anime and manga fans. It’s a subsidiary of Warner Media, the parent of Otter Media, which invested heavily in Crunchyroll in 2015. Two years later, the scrappy company created an interactive games division for mobile and web games for existing anime titles.

The two new hires are focused on expanding the brand, within its marketplace.

Alden Budill will head global partnerships and content strategy. She says there are about 30,000 episodes of content on Crunchyroll’s platform, outpacing rivals. Her remit is content acquisition and distribution. The company also tapped Terry Li, a tech executive who has been serving as a company advisor. Li said building games around existing shows helps drives user interest.