Funimation and Bilibili announced that they entered a strategic licensing partnership. The agreement will see the two publishers cooperate as they jointly acquire licenses for global distribution. Both organizations will look to pick up IP rights for broadcast TV, video-on-demand, electronic sell-through, home entertainment, gaming, and merchandising for the United States and China along with the rest of the world.
Executives from Funimation and Bilibili will meet with potential partners though AnimeJapan 2019.
Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga commented on the news, stating:
We’re thrilled to be partnering with Bilibili and to start pursuing new anime development and distribution opportunities together […] This collaboration will help drive and serve the global demand for anime, allowing us to not only bring exciting new anime to market but also provide access to fans around the world. In addition, this will enable us to significantly increase our ability to offer Simuldub™ titles day and date with the Japanese broadcast. This is truly a great day for both the industry and anime fans everywhere.
Bilibili Vice Chairman of the Board and COO Carly Lee also commented on the news:
As a leading anime and film distribution in Japan, Funimation is an ideal partner for us to promote the globalization of the anime industry. This strategic collaboration supports our overseas vision and strengthens our ability to acquire and monetize quality IP worldwide. We are excited to work with Funimation to bring more premium Japanese anime to the global market.
Bilibili is China’s biggest anime streaming provider, dwarfing behemoths iQIYI and Tencent in the category. The platform offers both paid and ad-supported models, as is typical of the Chinese streaming market.
The platform grew immensely between January 2015 and July 2017, during which it added over 300 new anime titles. This includes simulcasts of current shows, including Mr. Osomatsu 2 and Himouto! Umaru-chan R. During the two-year period, Bilibili invested in over twenty anime projects, including Space Patrol Luluco and Akiba’s Trip: The Animation.
In 2018, Bilibili launched an IPO on the United States’ NASDAQ index. The initial funding brought in $483 million on an $400 million expectation.
Gen Fukunaga founded Funimation in May 1994 with his wife Cindy. The organization was acquired by Navarre in 2005, which saw the organization renamed to Funimation Entertainment. In 2011, Funimation was purchased from Navarre by a group of investors led by Fukunaga. The organization remained independent until October 2017, when Sony Pictures acquired 95% of Funimation for $143 million.
On February 1, Variety reported that Funimation General Manger Gen Fukunaga will step down from his position. In a memo, Fukunaga explained that he will remove himself from day-to-day operations within six months, and that a search for a new General Manager is currently ongoing.
Source: Funimation (Press Release)