Crunchyroll started as a passion project that I created with my buddies from Berkeley (Go Bears). It’s grown to a global streaming platform that brings Japanese anime and drama to millions of fans around the world. By partnering with the leading Asian content creators, we're able to bring the most popular series like Naruto Shippuden, Hunter x Hunter, Madoka Magica (one of my favorites) -- to millions of fans internationally. Today, Crunchyroll simulcasts 4 out of every 5 on-air anime shows within minutes of original TV broadcast, translated professionally in multiple languages, and accessible on a broad set of devices.

We also have an incredibly active online community of passionate fans who care just as much as we do about supporting the industry. Crunchyroll is made by fans for fans... and that's why I love my job, AMA!

thanks for joining this AMA, you guys are awesome. don't forget to check out our new simulcasts and our store!

Our new simulcasts:

We also sell some amazing items in our online store:

Comments: 2112 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

HorribleSubsLeader659 karma

Hi there! I have been a HUGE fan of crunchyroll since late 2008 2006 and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you guys release SO MUCH anime every day! A few years ago I registered the nickname "KunGao" on Rizon irc network to use as a irc bot and when I saw this AMA I thought about how I could hand over this nickname to you, what do you say?

KunGao329 karma

thats a great nickname, you should hang on to it

Indekkusu572 karma

When will Crunchyroll get html5 video player instead of the current flash based player?

KunGao419 karma

we have contractual obligations with content partners wrt content security, which is not a capability provided by html5

GenocideCobra489 karma

How much do you regret doing this AMA?

KunGao761 karma

not as much as i would regret not doing this AMA =)

unpronounceableSA284 karma

I have heard that Japanese corporations tend to be very conservative when it comes to new ventures. How difficult was it to get companies on board when you were first looking to legally stream anime? How has that changed as Crunchyroll has gotten bigger?

KunGao367 karma

when we started in 2008, CR was a platform where users were uploading a lot of anime content. We knew we needed to license everything but were incredible naive about how content and licensing works.

So we literally put on our backpacks and went to Japan and started knocking on doors.

At first, there was a lot of pushback. Some of the first meetings were frankly very challenging. But we stuck with it and showed our partners how persistent we were to licensing anime for simulcast.. they weren't going to get rid of us that easily!

Over time, we won't people over with how passionate our audience was, and how pesky we were. In the end, it also helped that we didn't really know how hard it was going to be when we started.

Nowadays, it is still a lot of persuading partners, since we always try to push for more rights to grow our global business, get more titles, expand our manga service, ecommerce, etc.

Wazs223 karma

when we started in 2008, CR was a platform where users were uploading a lot of anime content. We knew we needed to license everything but were incredible naive about how content and licensing works.

I thought you guys started in 2006 when you were illegally hosting and providing people with fansubbed anime with no permission or consent from the respective owners?

KunGao347 karma

to clarify, we started in mid 2006 as a nights and weekends project to build a youtube clone. we shared it with our friends and they uploaded a bunch of shows they couldn't watch in the US, instead of cats hanging on shower curtains.

Beginning of 2008, we incorporated as CR, took investment from Venrock. At the time the site had already a lot of fans with other fans uploading to the site. We went to Japan all of 2008 to figure out licensing. By the end of 2008, we had secured partnerships with a number of content partners, including TV Tokyo. We had told them how we got to this point, and we were really passionate about bringing anime to the world.

Our content partners got behind us, and new years day 2009, we turned off the site, and rebooted it with only licensed content and official materials.

.. thats more or less the full timeline of our humble beginnings

StokeYdral251 karma

One of the main criticisms I've seen of Crunchyroll is that when you support CR, you're not really supporting the Japanese anime industry, just a bunch of middlemen. I know when anime was at its most popular in box stores around the US it was common for a Japanese company to sell the US distribution rights for a flat fee and then have no other involvement no matter how well (or poorly) a series sold.

  1. Does Crunchyroll have any kind of revenue sharing in place for the Japanese producers, or is it purely an upfront payment with no further interest on their part?
  2. If there is no revenue sharing, can you give us a rough estimate of how much Crunchyroll pays for the rights to stream a typical anime? (For example, a two cour series of middling popularity expectations)

KunGao458 karma

all our deals with content partners are revenue share. we contribute a majority to content partners.

we are the only major streaming service to revenue share subscription revenue (in addition to ad revenue). when a viewer watches more of a show, more of their subscription dollars will go towards that publisher based on minutes viewed... so watching more of your favorite shows directly contributes to what Japanese studios receive.

HorribleSubsLeader146 karma

Here are some serious questions. I don't have any complaints about your subtitles, but I have a few questions about business decisions I'd like to ask:

  1. Where do you see Crunchyroll in 5 years time? At the end of the day, anime has a very niche viewership. I dare say you've acquired at least 90% of the anime streaming market in North America. How do you see yourself expanding your business? Frankly, I don't think the anime market is that big worldwide. Many people are trying (Netflix), or have tried to get into the streaming market (TheAnimeNetwork, Viki). None other than Crunchyroll have succeeded.

  2. Following my first question, it seems like Crunchyroll is attempting to get into the drama market. Judging by the piracy rate of asian drama in the US, I can say the market is much smaller than the anime market. Do you really foresee that business taking off? Or will it be another failure like j-manga?

  3. Do you actually see simulpubbing manga as a viable business? I mean, you mentioned here you have to pull the chapters once they release in print. I feel that will prevent the manga portion of Crunchyroll from taking off. I mean, not everyone is out there to read the latest stuff. People sometimes want to catch up with the old stuff. What is your take on that?

Thanks, HSL

KunGao93 karma

  1. i think we are really at the tip of the iceberg on what anime can be. there are so many fans out there that still haven't experienced anime, and streaming is just one way to reach those fans. i think overall we feel incredible positive that anime will be here to stay and grow globally and we are really early in that process, and we want to be there to help foster that growth

  2. we surveyed our anime viewers on what other content they would enjoy. i think we view it as how do we bring more incredible programming to our existing viewers first and foremost. with J-manga, we provided some backend and frontend technology, but it was owned and operated by a different company.

  3. i think everyone agrees there's an incredible demand and fans really want access to manga digitally. we want to turn this incredible demand into a viable business that shares back to mangaka and publishers. there's still a lot of work that needs to be done before we get there but i'm confident we have the best shot

sigmastorm7122 karma

Do you guys try to get your hands on every show possible or are there some that you ignore or pass up? If so, why?

KunGao237 karma

we make a bid on every single title, we don't win them all, but we try =)

IronZebra94 karma

I'm quoting /u/Daiz on this because I really want this question answered

"One thing fansubs do especially well in comparison to legal alternatives is sign typesetting. I'm seeing more attempts at this on CR's end these days (not surprising with the amount of ex-fansubbers you hire), but CR's limited Flash subtitle renderer obviously makes things pretty awkward and cumbersome, not to mention the fact that you guys stick to core web fonts for some reason (seriously, it's 2014, webfonts aren't that hard and there's plenty of good free-for-commercial-use fonts out there). Are you ever going to improve your subtitle rendering tech? (While you're at it, you could also add chapter points to all your videos. People like it when they can skip OP/EDs easily.)"

EDIT: Wow! I actually didn't know who Daiz was. I just found out that he's a part of the fansub group Underwater. Its very interesting knowing this based on the nature of his questions. I don't know how to feel about that, seems like it was in poor taste, but I thought this question had some valid points.

KunGao81 karma

you have valid points. there's a certain amount we can push in terms of stylization of subs. but i hear you our subtitle rendering needs improvements and it will be worked on as we roll out improves to our web video player

torisunanohokori77 karma

CR was reported to have 200,000 paid subscribers last March, before Attack on Titan and CR manga. What's that number at now?

KunGao131 karma

we last publicly reported over 300,000 paid subs

TheAnimeSnob71 karma

You've been expanding recently, with the recent addition of the Manga store, but I was wondering about the possibility of a digital music store as well?
A place where we could purchase Opening/Ending & Soundtracks used in various anime series. Sure there are places you can get a physical copy from places like CDJapan, but currently there isn't a service that provides a digital services in the west aside from the odd release on iTunes. So is doing something like something you'd be looking into doing?

KunGao90 karma

music rights are very challenging to clear for digital. if there is enough fan demand then we would explore more in this area

slug_man50 karma

Why is crunchyroll so opposed to hard downloads of anime titles? Is this part of the agreement with the distributor or something decided within the company?

KunGao122 karma

thats an awesome idea and we'd love to make it happen here at CR. the short of it is, download rights are completely separate from streaming

Aruseus49349 karma

When can we expect an update to the Crunchyroll Manga Online Reader? It is heavily regarded as extremely lacking compared to every other reader on the internet due to its user unfriendly interface. Just about any other reader on the internet is much more user friendly compared to the CR Reader and a number of us would like to see it updated that way it isn't a hassle to use it because we really do want to read more manga on CR.

KunGao62 karma

we just updated our iOS and Android Manga apps a few weeks ago! I know the team is working hard to push an update on the web reader as well, stay tuned

rapol33 karma

Do you think it would be possible to send an email out about 20 mins(or when it goes live) when an anime on your queue is coming up?

I know you guys send out something like this, but I think it is for the week and it's often days after the anime I have queued has aired.

I know I could just check the times and do it myself, but an email before or when that actual anime in my queue is up would get me to watch it a lot sooner and be pretty convenient.

Love the amount of anime you guys get too!

KunGao38 karma

we try to email the day before (within 24 hour), but the volume of emails is very large and delays occur. we are working on upgrading the queuing infrastructure to improve this

we do have a better experience on iOS where a notification is sent right after the simulcast

crimsonflair32 karma

How does acquiring streaming rights work? Has the deal with the Chernin Group affected this in some way?

Also, do you have any anime you're hyped for during the Fall 2014 season?

KunGao52 karma

typically, we figure out what is the new simulcast lineup weeks to months in advance of each season. then we approach each partner and make bids to license the title.

the partnership with The Chernin Group has allowed us grow our business more quickly, hire more folks, go after more territories and more titles.

For fall 2014, i hear the fate/stay night remake is getting a lot of buzz

-Niernen27 karma

  1. Something I really noticed this season, but why do you wait so late to announce titles? I understand some are last minute, but some shows were announced after they aired. I was waiting for Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2wei to be announced (I had assumed you would get it since you had the first season), but it was not announced till less than a day before the show aired. Is this due to licensing or other restrictions?

  2. Also, does anyone proofread your articles? There have been plenty of typos, which is fine unless it leads to a misunderstanding. I also have noticed that sometimes CR news is 3-4 days behind.

  3. Do you plan on getting older but popular series like you did with Gurren Lagann? Or are you focused more on future and currently airing shows?

  4. Will you get Ufotable's Fate/Stay Night remake?

  5. Noticed you added Nisekoi hug pillows to your store. Is there a plan for more hug pillows in the future?

  6. CR recently picked up manga, would or are you considering also picking up Light Novels?

  7. What was the first anime you watched?

  8. What is your favorite anime?

And I have saved perhaps the best question for last:

  1. Who is best girl?

KunGao33 karma

  1. a lot of the licensing is done very close to the first broadcast. we always try to announce earlier if possible. sometimes we aren't able to finalize the license until the first episode airs
  2. we are doing it live
  3. we want to be 100% of all on-air, and as much catalog as we can get our hands on
  4. we want to!
  5. more hugs and pillows are always good.. if fans buy them we'll get more
  6. we want to do manga right first
  7. neon genesis evangelion
  8. cowboy bebop

  9. rei ayanami!

kc_girl23 karma

From LatinAmerica here. There are a lot of anime series that are available for the US (or English site). I've been a paying member for about 2 years or more, and I thought that these were going to be available for stream, but still getting the "no rights for this region" quote.

My questions are: Are the stream rights different between Us and other regions? Why are there some anime with rights for US and LA and some others with only US streaming rights?

PS: I do like the Latin Spanish subs, very good timing and very accurate.

KunGao18 karma

anime licenses are by territory, and we try to get as many as possible.. sometimes it is very difficult to secure.

that said, our Latin America offering is very much on par with our US offering, and we've made significant progress the last few quarters towards this

Dbowd3n19 karma

What's the process of you guys getting a new show? I imagine it's not just a simple phone call.

Thanks for doing this!

KunGao26 karma

there's a few steps. we have to identify the title and licensor in advance of it air-ing on tv. many times the rights are not determined or cleared until the last minute. then we put together a proposal (including territories, terms, pricing) and go back and forth until we win the title. this gets put into a contract. once the title is acquired, there's an entire process of onboarding assets, video materials, encoding, translation, launch, etc.

so its a very complex phone call

RedTopHats14 karma

Hi Kun Gao! Welcome to Reddit! Some questions for you.

  1. What was your gateway anime? In other words, what anime made you look around for more in the medium?

  2. What are your thoughts on Subtitles versus Dubs (any language)? Do you prefer one or other or both?

  3. What were your thoughts before becoming an anime fan on the anime medium before understanding what it could really offer?

  4. I use the PS3 Crunchyroll App and it sometimes crashes or pauses randomly a few times. Some said this is a memory leak causing all of these problems. One of the reasons why I got Premium is to be able to watch anime on my TV, but this "memory leak" problem is excessively jarring to a relaxing experience.
    Are you going to do anything about this? (Just to let you know, some people unsubscribed from your service because of this problem)

  5. If you could go back in time to your past self (Steins;gate style), what would you do differently with the knowledge you have now?

  6. Most challenging thing as a CEO or co-founder in your position of the company?

  7. Do you keep up with current airing? If so, what's your favourite anime so far this season?

  8. Tell us something that you haven't said anything elsewhere so we could feel special. Whether it be about your life, the company, opinion on current events, etc.

KunGao25 karma

  1. neon genesis evangelion
  2. i prefer subs, but dubs are great for when you can't focus on the screen
  3. i was pretty naive to how it all worked. bringing anime overseas to fans is incredible difficult work that takes the time and passion of many people in the industry
  4. yes, we are well aware and it is on the roadmap to fix and update the app
  5. in high school, i had a choice between Japanese and Spanish for foreign language... i ended up taking 4 years of Spanish... so yeah that would be an easy change
  6. building and growing the team to meet all the challenges associated with taking anime to the next level
  7. SAO and Sailor Moon, i grew up watching the original sailor moon on TV
  8. i've been a long time lurker on reddit. the community here is awesome.. love /r/keto

IbrahimT139 karma

Has your view on anime itself been changed by founding Crunchyroll? Do you actually watch a lot of it, or just what you can?

KunGao25 karma

i try to watch when i have a chance, but there's only so many hours in a day. its ironic that being passionate about anime and building an anime service has really cut into my own time to watch anime =(

that said, we've met so many great people in Japan at tv stations, studios, publishers, and what I realized is that both the fans and creators are super passionate, but there wasn't a platform to bridge the two. i'd like to think we had a small part to making anime more accessible and pushing the boundary on digital delivery of content while bridging the gap between creators and fans

MrTheJackThePerson3 karma

Just want to say I'm a really big fan of the site, and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today. Here's a few questions!

  1. Has the english dub for Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders been successful? If so, do you think there's a chance to get Parts 1 and 2 dubbed, along with some other anime that seemed to have no chance of getting dubbed? Also, with the inclusion of the Toradora dub, will more english dubs start appearing on CR?

  2. I actually only started watching anime in December (thanks to Crunchyroll, actually), but I've noticed that Crunchyroll has been focusing more on currently airing anime rather than older shows that are more popular. Is that something that might change, do you think? (That's not to say I don't enjoy watching currently airing shows)

  3. There's probably a very simple answer to this, but is there a reason CR takes manga chapters down after they've been released in volumes? Also, will the Manga section be expanding with older works as well?

  4. Various shows (Bakemonogatari, Gurren Lagann, etc) are only available in 480p. With Toradora getting the upgrade to 1080p AND a dub release on the website, will there be more upgrades with that same idea?

  5. Any chance of more movies or OVA episodes on the site?

Thanks for reading!

KunGao3 karma

  1. the dub screened really well at AX and on our site. I hope to see more, but it is up to the studio

  2. expanding our catalog offering is something we try to tackle. most of the time catalog is more difficult because the rights are tied up or not available

  3. We have contractual agreements that require us to pull chapters once they are available for sale in print in the U.S. We do our best to let people know a few weeks in advance when those chapters will be taken down.

As for expanding our manga catalog to include more older works, we are in the process of getting new and older catalog stuff for you guys, so stay tuned.

  1. we always push for the highest quality on materials, sometimes what we receive are only in 480p

  2. we always try to pick up movie or OVA of our simulcasts