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Funimation and Crunchyroll announce Partnership

The anime streaming scene has become pretty competitive, with sites competing to win the rights to simulcast the biggest shows. The two biggest names in the game are Crunchyroll and Funimation, who between them have most of the latest shows in their catalogue. Now, these two giants of anime have surprised everyone with the announcement that they will be working together.

What exactly does this mean? Essentially, it means that the two companies are going to stop competing for rights for shows and instead co-operate to bring the latest anime to fans. This sharing of rights will mean that some previously exclusively  Funimation licensed shows will come to Crunchyroll's catalogue. In the other direction, Funimation will produce dubs of Crunchyroll licensed shows. Ultimately, the plan is that Crunchyroll will be the home of subtitled anime, and Funimation Now will be for English dubbed shows.

The Funimation Now service, currently offers two tiers of premium membership, with a sub only option and an all access pass. This will be phased out in favour of a single option- and for those currently on the all-access plan, this will mean a price cut.

Earlier in the summer, Crunchyroll announced plans to release bilingual Blu-ray and DVDs of a number of shows including Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress and Beserk. As part of this new partnership, these will now be handled by Funimation. These titles will also be available to download via platforms such as iTunes, PSN, Xbox and Amazon.

For the most part, this will only affect people in countries where Funimation Now is available (currently North America and the UK and Ireland), although licensing restrictions mean the titles available in each territory will differ.

This is a pretty major deal, and some commentators suggest that it's being done to ward off the threat of the recent moves of major players Netflix and Amazon into the anime streaming biz.

Is it a good thing for fans though? It's been an increasing bugbear of many that all the shows are not streaming in one place.. and while that's not ever likely to happen anytime soon, this is a move in the right direction. But some have also questioned if it's also moving towards a virtual monopoly, that threatens to crowd out other platforms like Anime Network, Daisuke and Animax. It could also affect the home entertainment market, as other labels may find it harder to licence shows. This is all speculation though- the ink is barely dry on the contract and it remains to be seen how it will turn out. Nonetheless, these are interesting times for anime fans.