Crunchyroll has moved from posting pirated videos of manga and anime to selling subscriptions for legally licensed videos
The Chernin Group is on the verge of acquiring a majority stake in Crunchyroll, a web video site that specializes in East Asian television, according to multiple individuals with knowledge of the deal. Chernin will pay less than $100 million for the share, and the deal should close in the next few weeks.
Crunchyroll began by offering pirated versions of those shows, tapping into the vast audience for anime, manga and similar content.
It then raised some money from various investors, including venture capital firm Venrock, and began legally acquiring the rights to various shows. It also began charging for subscriptions, and now has a subscriber base of more than 200,000.
It offers subscribers more than 25,000 episodes of TV. The company's founders and employees, including CEO Kun Gao, with shares will retain their stakes in the company, as will select investors.
The main institutional investor, Venrock, will be selling its stake.
Chernin has also invested in multichannel networks Fullscreen and Base79, as well as several Asian properties.