LM interviewed Waell Oueslati, EMEA Acquisition and Licensing Director at Crunchyroll to learn more about the future plans of the leading anime’s collection company.
This issue of LM will be focused on the Future of the Licensing Industry. So, which are your 2021 licensing and entertainment plans?
Crunchyroll’s global growth has been incredible reaching today a global community of more than 3 million subscribers and 70 million registered users all over the world that enjoy the world’s largest collection of anime, including more 1,000 titles and 30,000 episodes.
Crunchyroll’s top properties in 2021 will include “My Hero Academia” and “Captain Tsubasa” in Europe, and the Crunchyroll Original series “Tower of God” and “The God of High School” alongside “Jujutsu Kaisen”, “Bananya”, “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Re: ZERO”, “The Junji Ito Collection”, “One Punch Man”, “Dr. STONE” and “Black Clover”, just to name a few.
Which are the additional values of your brands?
Anime is an incredible storytelling medium that crosses many genres including sci-fi, sports, thriller, adventure, action, romance and more. There is truly an anime for everything.
Which targets are you able to cover with your anime and manga content? And which are the major licensing categories you are used to developing referring to your main audience?
Anime is a very specific category as it speaks to a plethora of audiences including boys, girls, kids, teens, adults and also so many genres whether it is action, drama, comedy, sports etc.
Crunchyroll currently manages all-rights for more than 350 anime titles, working with more than 100 global licensees to provide anime fans with the best lifestyle, fashion, toys and home goods products from their favorite series.
Crunchyroll has different divisions and souls. Could you tell us more about how this big content factory is structured?
Crunchyroll, a WarnerMedia company, is the world’s most popular anime brand, connecting anime and manga fans across 200+ countries and territories with 360-degree experiences.
Fans have access to the largest collection of licensed anime through Crunchyroll, Anime Digital Network (in partnership with Citel, a subsidiary of Média-Participations), and Anime on Demand video streaming services, translated in multiple languages for viewers worldwide. Viewers can also access simulcasts — top series available immediately after Japanese broadcast. Crunchyroll’s services also extend to licensing of theatrical, TV, home video, consumer product, and video game rights.
Fans engage further with events (including owned events as Crunchyroll Expo, Anime Awards, Crunchyroll Movie Nights, KAZÉ Movie Nights), consumer products through eCommerce and retail partners (Crunchyroll, KAZÉ, AV Visionen), Crunchyroll Games, KAZÉ Games, and manga (KAZÉ Manga, Crunchyroll Manga app, Crunchyroll Manga Store).
We’re also looking to extend our broader 360-approach internationally within this next year on three fronts. First of all, in terms of Distribution, we recently worked with Cartoon Network in LATAM and TNT Comedy in Germany, to bring fans linear offerings to connect.
As for the Events, we know the world has changed this year, but our team has participated in a number of virtual conventions, panels, and events both in the US and in our international markets. We’ve just wrapped the first-ever worldwide Virtual Crunchyroll Expo with an incredible lineup of guests, premieres, panels, performances and more over the three-day digital event.
Finally, the Crunchyroll Games. Many of our games are available internationally. Notably “Mass for the Dead” has been particularly popular with fans in Mexico and Latin America. We’re planning to bring more games to fans!
Basing on the new consumers’ habits, due to the COVID period, how are you keeping to entertain through online platforms?
Like most streaming companies, we’ve seen an uptick, but we’re fortunate to be able to provide comfort and entertainment during these times. We’ve just wrapped the first-ever worldwide Virtual Crunchyroll Expo with an incredible lineup of guests, premieres, panels, performances and more over the three-day digital event.
How do you feel the partnerships with licensees and retailers have changed following this period and how you will strengthen it in the future?
The licensing business being driven by product and experiences, the pandemic has seriously disrupted some of the planned strategies for 2020/2021, leaving licensing and retail businesses particularly exposed. This disruption pushes us and our partners to explore a number of new creative options to enable the same experiences online or virtually. This change was actually predictable and already ongoing, but let’s say that the world situation we’re all facing today has accelerated the process of finding ways to keep our community in connection.
Finally, we are still seeing a strong eCommerce business, and we are working closely with our licensing partners to be nimble during these times.