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AT&T Sells Crunchyroll, VRV to Sony for $1.175 billion

Anime video service Crunchyroll has over 3 million paying subscribers as well as 90 million registered users, according to a release announcing the deal.

It is now being combined with the company running Funimation, a competing anime video service jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and a Japanese subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.

The deal represents an end for AT&T's big bet on niche video subscriptions. The telco teamed up with Hollywood mogul Peter Chernin in 2014 to found Otter Media, a holding company that was supposed to both grow Crunchyroll as well as spin up a number of similar video services targeting fans of niche content. AT&T bought out Chernin in 2018 to take full control of Crunchyroll and other Otter Media entities.

But while Crunchyroll grew to be a successful business that now extends into events, merchandise sales and even video games, efforts to launch similar services targeting fans of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean content ultimately fell flat. The team behind Crunchyroll instead pivoted to build VRV, a niche subscription bundle that combines Crunchyroll with other niche services. Now, AT&T is selling VRV together with Crunchyroll and other recently acquired assets (KAZE, Anime on Demand, Anime Digital Network, Eye See Movies) to Funimation.

Big Tech benefits from Biden’s sweeping immigration actions

Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai praised President Biden's immigration actions, which read like a tech industry wishlist.

Newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden signed two immigration-related executive orders on Wednesday.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Immediately after being sworn in as president Wednesday, Joe Biden signed two pro-immigration executive orders and delivered an immigration bill to Congress that reads like a tech industry wishlist. The move drew enthusiastic praise from tech leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

President Biden nullified several of former-President Trump's most hawkish immigration policies. His executive orders reversed the so-called "Muslim ban" and instructed the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which the Trump administration had sought to end. He also sent an expansive immigration reform bill to Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals and make it easier for foreign U.S. graduates with STEM degrees to stay in the United States, among other provisions.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

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