Takeover of ADN, ex-Crunchyroll, to “maintain a direct relationship with the public”

In the beginning were genzai.fr and kzplay.fr, video on demand platforms belonging to Media-Participations and VIZ Media Europe. Their merger in September 2013 resulted in the creation of Anime Digital Network, with a catalog of 4000 anime episodes and around fifty films: naruto, Fairy Tail or Magi were on the menu.

In a decade, the players have moved: Crunchyroll, a subsidiary of Warner Media at the time, merged with VIZ Media Europe (which includes manga and anime publisher Kazé, among others) in 2019. Two years later, Funimation Global Group, a subsidiary of Sony, got its hands on Crunchyroll, and its divisions. It should be remembered, however, that by acquiring Kazé in 2009, VIZ Media Europe (belonging to the Japanese publishers Shûeisha and Shôgakukan) was anchored in a strategy aimed specifically at French territory. As such, Kazé definitely went under the Crunchyroll brand last June.

But times change and the partners of yesteryear separate for happier tomorrows, because each on his side. Crunchyroll sells its shares in the ADN company, which then becomes full property of Média-Participations: a few months after having integrated the capital of Deezer, the French company decides to consolidate its digital component.

READ: Media Participations and Deezer, audiobook, podcasts, comics

For the anecdote, all the same, remember that Crunchyroll had started its activity in 2006 as a video sharing site – including fansubs – before starting a shift towards legal distribution, two years later. However, the general interest group that ADN represented was also motivated by the imperative of a legal offer, to respond to piracy…

DNA, a matter of genetics

On the Crunchyroll side, ceder d’ADN facilitates the ongoing work of global unification of services and brands in Europe. Thus, when the French platform Wakanim merged with Crunchyroll – March 2022 – it did not take long for the catalog to be poured directly into the pipes of the parent company.

It was the same with Funimation, which had signed for distribution on Crunchyroll in January 2016 and was eventually acquired in July 2017. For $143 million, Sony became the majority shareholder, the rest of the ramifications are known. By the way, Funimation also pilots Wakanim: the world is small.

ADN therefore becomes the most important French streaming platform, dedicated to animation, with titles like naruto, One Piece, The attack of the Titans, Hunter X Hunter Where Demon Slayer – don’t throw any more! ” ADN’s desire has always been to share its passion for animation, whether Japanese or French, with the French market. This is why ADN will now offer a wider range of Japanese anime, teen and adult animation as well as original French productions.“says Julien Lemoine, general manager of the structure.

The financial conditions have obviously not been communicated, but the projects are already not lacking: Ankama – in which Media-Participations has been a shareholder since 2017 – and ADN will collaborate both in terms of works and technology. The video game creation studio, which has diversified with the publication of board games, books and then animation, also added the webtoon string to its bow last May.

The imperative of original works

Still, this schism was becoming more and more predictable, as confirmed by Julien Papelier, Deputy Managing Director of Media Participations. ” Crunchy had two distribution platforms, its own and ADN, which didn’t make much sense for the French market alone.And, following the takeover, Sony entered the fray with Wakanim in its luggage. In this way, Crunchy had three offers for the French territory – and the future of ADN required a decision on the Media side.

Of course, the discussions had started some time ago, but to find an agreement, a chain of legal and other validations is being put in place…

At this time, Media Participations is especially delighted that the majority of the DNA team remains in the adventure. “We share this feeling of having built a successful asset, the team is very connected to its subscribers and members: it would have been unfortunate not to be able to continue with them», resumes Julien Papelier.

Especially since the subjects will not be lacking, starting with the most sensitive: securing the works broadcast so far. “France remains a country of reference on everything related to Japanese culture, which pleads in our favor. However, the challenge is major: getting closer to Japanese partners, anticipating and maintaining competitive offers. “Investments matter, but the Media model is one of long-term vision, also involving brand management. We have some pretty unique approaches to highlight.»

And success stories likenarutowhose global exploitation, from Kana as a manga publisher through the audiovisual rights with Médiatoon, “demonstrates consistency of actions“. This does not prevent, on the contrary, to look at the price of real estate in Tokyo, just in case it is necessary to get closer to the Japanese publishers…

In parallel, ADN will quite logically develop original creations – an imperative for streaming offers which then stand out among subscribers. During the Annecy festival, a first co-production was unveiled: the adaptation ofdreamland, published by Pika. The success of this French manga has placed serious hopes in this audiovisual production – and of course, others are to come.

Link with the public

In the boxes, ADN aims above all “the wealth of European talents, who have built a hybrid culture, of their American, Japanese and Franco-Belgian influences“, notes the DGA. The integration of the teams will take place gradually, with a clearly defined perspective:Faced with digital giants, American, Chinese or Japanese, we need to exist and maintain a direct relationship with the public“, emphasizes Julien Papelier. “Whether vis-à-vis readers or viewers, this connection becomes fundamental. »

From there a widened creative spectrum, and an offer on DNA which will be coupled with series for teenagers and adults. At Media, we already have some experience in this area – Tintin, Boule and Bill, Garfield or even the Marsupilami and The Smurfs attest to this. Endowing the platform with a capacity for innovation as well as unpublished works can only reinforce its attractiveness.

And then, difficult to ignore the exchanges with Ankama. Briefly mentioned, the studio indeed shares many points in common, admits Julien Papelier. “We do not plan to consolidate structures, because we rather have a culture of diversity. On the other hand, the rapprochement of forces is obvious, because Ankama and ADN have universes that come together. Gaming, fantasy, manga and Japanese animation are constantly communicating.Without forgetting the webtoon and its rise…

photo credits: DNA