Crunchyroll ramps up EMEA expansion with VIZ Media Europe acquisition

WarnerMedia-owned SVOD Crunchyroll has completed its acquisition of anime distributor VIZ Media Europe Group, and appointed an EMEA head for the business.

The combining of the two businesses will expand Crunchyroll’s anime brand and global platform with VIZ’s EMEA network of partners, distributors and licensees. The SVOD – which has maintained a strong footprint in what is a challenging climate for niche SVOD services – now has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Chisinau, Paris, Berlin and Lausanne.

The VIZ portfolio spans VIZ Media Europe, VIZ Media Switzerland, AV Visionen, KAZÉ, KAZÉ Manga, Anime on Demand and Anime Digital Network.

Following the merger, VIZ Media Europe president Kazuyoshi Takeuchi is stepping down from the role, and will continue to support the business as an adviser. He will also lead the company’s publishing licensing arm, which is still under the control of previous owners Shogakukan and Shueisha Group, who also retain a minority stake in VIZ Media Europe Group.

Meanwhile, Crunchyroll has appointed John Easum as head of Crunchyroll EMEA.

The exec is to steer the expansion of Crunchyroll’s international efforts, including overseeing VIZ Media Europe Group, the management of new and existing content distribution deals and the exploration and expansion of international events and activations.

He is to split his time between Paris and Berlin to work closely with each team in their respective offices.

Joanne Waage, GM of Crunchyroll, said: “This is an important moment in Crunchyroll’s history, indicative of our commitment to growing the global anime and manga communities. Through this acquisition, we now have operations and expertise at scale in EMEA to grow the value and audience of our collective IP across streaming, broadcast, theatrical, home video, manga, games, events, ecommerce and more. As we move into this next chapter, we can think of no person better-suited to guide our strategy and team in EMEA than John Easum, who brings more than 25 years of experience growing the anime and manga industries internationally and who has served in leadership positions previously at VIZ Media Europe and VIZ Media USA.”

Easum added: “I have a deep history with VIZ Media Europe, and I am grateful for the opportunity to again lead a very talented team under a new strategy that I strongly believe will take our company to the next level. Collectively, we will be in a much stronger position to bring the global anime and manga communities comprehensive 360-degree experiences around the content they love; beyond streaming into broadcast and home video, publishing, consumer products and licensing, events, gaming, and much, much, more.”

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