Crunchyroll cuts streaming subscription price in nearly 100 countries

At a time when many subscription streaming services have raised prices, Crunchyroll is cutting the cost of its leading anime SVOD in nearly 100 countries and territories

The price changes, announced Monday, vary by region including the U.K., India, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates.

Anime fans in the U.K. will see the price for a Crunchyroll Mega Fan subscription, which offers four simultaneous device streams and offline viewing, drop from about £8 per month to around £6 per month. Subscribers in India will see the most dramatic price cut, going from $10 USD to 99 Indian Rupees (or around $1.25). Users in the UAE also are getting a significant reduction, with Crunchyroll cutting the price in about half from $10 USD to 19 UAE Dirham (around $5.17 per month). Brazil, meanwhile, will change from 32 Brazilian Real ($5.95) to 19.99 Brazilian Real (about $3.72).

The full list of countries with price reductions can be found here.

In a FAQ section, Crunchyroll reassured consumers they won’t see any changes in services or reductions in content alongside the price cuts.

“In fact we are still increasing both dubbed and subtitled content in more languages,” the website states. And the lower price doesn’t come as a trade-off for ads. Unlike SVOD leaders Netflix and Disney+, which will introduce lower-cost tiers with ads likely this year, Crunchyroll announced a phase out of its ad-supported option earlier this year (though it only applies to new and current series, with existing library content still available for free).

The price changes will take effect on the next subscription payment cycle.

Crunchyroll was scooped up in 2021 by Sony, which acquired the service from AT&T in a $1.17 billion deal. Sony’s in the process of integrating more content from its Funimation anime streaming service – formerly a rival of Crunchyroll – to ultimately combine content from both platforms into a single Crunchyroll service.

‘Less-is-more’ strategy to boost adoption

Analysts at Interpret don’t think Crunchyroll’s move to a lower price point in several markets is surprising, saying it’s a way to drive paying subscribers and adoption of more premium tiers after the move earlier this year to phase out ad-supported service.

According to Interpret’s John McCallum, senior research manager & lead anime analyst, at a glance it looks like “the price drops are mostly not coming in countries where the Funimation acquisition already added a lot of Crunchyroll’s reach.”

To that point, Interpret VP Brett Sappington told Fierce that, importantly, Crunchyroll didn’t lower prices in several markets where it has the strongest adoption, according to the firm’s Animeasure research. That includes the U.S., where the service was used by 5% of consumers in the past three months, Australia (5%), and Mexico (7%).

Sappington noted that Crunchyroll has been available globally for many years with both an ad-supported and premium option. But the price point looks to have been too high in some areas to gain adoption of more premium tiers.

“They clearly have run the numbers in these markets and determined that their pricing is hindering their premium subscription success,” Sappington told Fierce, adding that the change is a push to convert viewers of the ad-supported service to paying customers.

“Crunchyroll is using a less-is-more strategy to boost adoption. By lowering its price, they expect the jump in paid service adoption to more than make up for the drop in advertising revenues,” he continued.

The anime-focused service can also look to Hulu as an example, he said. “In the past, Hulu dropped its price at a time when Netflix and others were raising prices. The result was a notable jump in subscribers.”

The move could also help boost the platform’s fan community. Sappington said the service has long put emphasis on community building “as a way to own the anime space.”

“By making the premium tier more accessible, Crunchyroll stands to grow that community further,” he noted.

Another focus could be to lure consumers away from sites featuring pirated anime content.

“In many of the markets Crunchyroll is targeting, pirate anime sites are the biggest competition,” Sappington explained. “Lowering the subscription price makes Crunchyroll more appealing to users who would rather subscribe and avoid ads than to go to a pirate site.”

Anime fandom deepening

The price cuts come as anime popularity continues to grow globally.

An April 2021 Interpret found that U.S. anime saw more than 30% growth year over year driven by new viewers aged 13-44, meaning one-quarter of people watching the genre at the time of report were not watching it the year prior.

McCallum noted “massive growth in anime viewership in most countries in the past couple years,” and while more modest from 2020 to 2021 “still net growth in most countries.”

Earlier this month Crunchyroll surpassed the 100 million milestone for app downloads globally.

“It’s not so surprising that it’d finally be time to try and push to convert more of those new viewers into paying subscribers,” McCallum said of the service’s price cuts.

Not only is anime fandom growing, but also deepening according to Interpret.

In a July 13 post, the research firm highlighted a debate among anime fans over the preference of watching content in its original language with subtitles versus dubbed versions – with a growing preference for the former across all 11 markets where trended data is available.

“Subs vs. dubs may seem like a largely subjective or mechanical choice, but a shift towards subs likely signals that many of those viewers who became anime fans during the pandemic are not only sticking around but deepening in their fandom,” wrote McCallum.

While anime is a targeted audience segment, the genre has a loyal fan base, with recent Hub Entertainment Research survey data ranking Funimation and Crunchyroll as a “must-have” entertainment subscription services – on the board with general entertainment heavy hitters like Netflix that subscribing households say they can’t do without.