Last year, there was quite a lot of uncertainty and big changes from last year, which is why I skipped this for 2019. While Crunchyroll and Funimation broke off their partnership after AT&T's takeover of Crunchyroll back in October 2018, it took awhile for the breakup to take effect as shows from the Winter 2019 season were signed on as part of the deal before the breakup happened, while a number of spring season shows were also covered. It wasn't until the summer season when the breakup was truly complete with only sequels for shows that are under the partnership still appearing under the terms of the agreement. And so, a lot has happened since then as some services increased in relevance (Funimation, Netflix) while others have decreased (Amazon, Hulu, HIDIVE). Before getting to the analysis, here are some major changes that have happened over the last two years:
  • The aformentioned breakup in the partnership between Crunchyroll and Funimation has once again made these two services competitors for licenses.
  • Sentai is now using Crunchyroll again to simulcast their licenses. Recently, Sentai has removed a bunch of underperforming old titles from Crunchyroll and they are now exclusive to HIDIVE should Sentai still hold the license for them.
  • Hulu has a partnership with Funimation to stream the majority of their catalog.
  • HBO Max has been created and is streaming a bunch of Crunchyroll titles. The only thing exclusive to them are the Studio Ghibli movies.
  • Amazon's partnership with Noitamina and Animeism have expired, and the only titles since then that are exclusive to Amazon worldwide are Kemurikusa, Psycho-Pass 3, and the Twin Engine shows Dororo, Karakuri Circus, Vinland Saga, Babylon, and Pet.
  • Netflix has a deal in place to stream the +Ultra block exclusively worldwide.
So with that, I will once again analyze all the streaming services and break down the costs to be able to watch all anime for a typical season on average. They are broken into two categories with the sections being for those services that are anime-specific and those that are more mainstream, but have a substantial anime catalog.

Crunchyroll
Owner: AT&T/Warner Media/Otter Media
Location: San Francisco, CA
Subscriber Plans: Premium ($8/month, $80/year), Premium+ ($12/month, $120/year)
Cost Per Month: $6.67 (P, annual), $8 (P, monthly), $10 (P+, annual), $12 (P+, monthly)
Exclusive Titles: Several titles too numerous to list (shared with VRV)
Crunchyroll is what saved the anime industry, but it has undergone quite a lot of change and with Funimation surging, Crunchyroll's status as the go-to place for watching anime has been overtaken by some accounts. Nevertheless, Crunchyroll is adapting to the changes by rolling out their Crunchyroll Originals and increasing their presence in the production of anime. They used to be a small-time streaming service, but were recently bought out by AT&T through Warner Media's purchase of their parent company Otter Media, and they are now up for sale with AT&T having incurred so much debt. And as such, things have been run according to a megacorporation's will as after staying fixed for about five years, subscription rates have increased, all while the content they have been operating has decreased in volume.

Funimation Now
Owner: Sony
Location: Dallas, TX (Flower Mound)
Subscriber Plans: Premium ($6/month, $60/year), Premium Plus ($8/month, $80/year), Premium Plus Ultra ($100/year)
Cost Per Month: $6 (P/monthly), $5 (P/annual), $8 (P+/monthly), $6.67 (P+/annual), $8.33 (P+ Ultra)
Exclusive Titles: Most Funimation licenses, selected Aniplex titles
No service increased their relevance over the past two years than Funimation as the Sony-owned company followed up their decision to cut ties with Crunchyroll by making streaming deals with Hulu and Bilibili, all while using their relationship through Sony's ownership to create partnership with Aniplex of America to get exclusive same-day access to some of their licenses, while providing simuldubs for them out of Dallas. Before returning to how things were before the partnership, they only carried dubs for shows licensed by them and Crunchyroll. But now, they are carrying both subs and dubs for their titles. And of course, Funimation has been on a licensing binge ever since Sony bought them going after shows that didn't fit their footprint like Ensemble Stars, Actors, Tamayomi, Lapis Re:Lights, and Bungo and Alchemist as Funimation used to just pick up stuff with at least a somewhat decent profile. Now, they are taking these lower profile shows that Sentai or Crunchyroll would take on in the past. Funimation now has three tiers with the first one simply being able to watch everything, the middle tier allowing downloading to go and five simultaneous streams instead of two as well as free shipping on their store for orders over $20, and the high tier will give you some freebies and free shipping on all orders that are probably not worth the cost.

HIDIVE
Owner: Section 23
Location: Houston, TX
Subscriber Plans: Monthly ($5/month), Annual ($48/year)
Cost Per Month: $5 (Monthly), $4 (Annual)
Exclusive Titles: All new Sentai simulcasts and licenses from Winter 2018 season onward
HIDIVE was created in 2017 as a replacement for Anime Network Online and its antiquated player. Sentai used to stream their simulcasts on Crunchyroll while using ANO for older stuff and dubs. But when Crunchyroll joined forces with Funimation, that left Sentai in the dust and they turned to Amazon's ill-fated Anime Strike service for their shows. During that time, HIDIVE was launched, and when the channel dissolved, Sentai turned to HIDIVE for their shows. And when Crunchyroll ended their partnership, Sentai returned to the way things were, with the only differences being that exclusive content would go on HIDIVE instead of ANO, and HIDIVE is now one of the services on VRV.

VRV
Owner: AT&T/Warner Media/Otter Media
Location: San Francisco, CA
Subscriber Plans: Premium ($8/month, $80/year), Premium+ ($12/month, $120/year)
Cost Per Month: $5 (P, annual), $7 (P, monthly), $8.33 (P+, annual), $12 (P+, monthly)
This is the Ellation's way of bringing an all-in-one service. It was created during the partnership, but since then Funimation left and HIDIVE joined in their place. You can use the Crunchyroll channel with a Crunchyroll subscription.

Non-Anime Specific

Netflix
Owner: Netflix, Inc.
Location: San Jose, CA (Los Gatos)
Subscriber Plans: $9 (1 streams, SD-only), $13 (2 streams, with full HD), $16 (4 streams, with 4K)
Exclusive Titles: All Netflix Original shows like Violet Evergarden, Aggretsuko, Seven Deadly Sins, and the +Ultra shows
This is the top streaming service in the world for watching all sorts of things from movies to TV shows, and of course anime. Netflix has recently increased the amount of original content making it a very attractive to subscribe to. And subscribers came in record numbers this year due to the pandemic that meant a lot more free time for a lot of people. Unlike with the other services, Netflix shows only come out all at once within months after they are released in Japan.

Amazon Prime Video
Owner: Amazon
Location: Seattle, WA
Subscriber Plans: $9/month (Prime Video only), $13/month (Prime monthly), $119 (Prime annually)
Cost Per Month: $9 (Video only), $13 (Prime monthly), $10 (Prime annully)
Exclusive Titles: Noitamina and Animeism shows in 2017 and 2018, Twin Engine shows, Psycho-Pass 3, Blade of the Immortal (2019)
Amazon shook up the landscape with their entrance into the industry, but they have lost prevalence in large part to a series of poor decisions from their much-maligned Anime Strike channel to the former department president's legal troubles. While they are still bringing in exclusive titles for Japan, their exclusively doesn't not carry outside the country as much anymore. While it remains to be seen if they will be back to being an exclusive distributor, for now it looks like they are dead on that front.

Hulu
Owner: Disney, Comcast
Location: Los Angeles, CA (Santa Monica)
Subscriber Plans: $6/month (with ads), $12/month (no ads)
Exclusive Titles: Viz licenses (though not for much longer as many are starting to appear on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and/or Netflix)
Hulu used to be one of the first places for anime since that was the most reliable streaming service at the time. It used to have some exclusive titles as Viz used it for their shows, while Sentai had some exclusive titles on it before the creation of HIDIVE. But now, this is just Funimation's way of exposing their shows to the mainstream media as this is an alternative place to watch their titles, and even so it does not include the Aniplex stuff, while simuldubbed content comes out well after it goes up on Funimation.

HBO Max
Owner: AT&T/Warner Media/HBO
Location: New York City, NY
Subscriber Plans: $15/month
Exclusive Titles: Studio Ghibli movies
And the latest service to enter the industry is HBO Max, but thankfully they don't have any exclusive simulcasts as Warner Media is putting Crunchyroll titles on it to encourage Crunchyroll subscriptions. The Miyazaki movies are the only exclusive content there, and thus, there is no need to have a recurring subscription for it.

And before I get to the cost breakdown, there are a couple of services that could potentially enter the anime streaming wars, and while they have the resources and connections to do so should they choose, I'm not expecting to see it happen due to the company's focus on more mainstream content. First up is Disney+, and while Disney has worked with anime before being the distributor for the Studio Ghibli films before GKIDS took over that role, they are mostly doing kid-friendly stuff, which most anime shows are not. But seeing that Hulu is owned by the same guys who run Disney+ that any anime exclusives would go to Hulu before Disney+ Then there's Peacock by NBC Universal, and that opens an opportunity for NBC Universal Entertainment Japan to put their shows on that new service exclusively to help sell subscriptions, but for now it's not happening since things are still going great with their current arrangement.

So once again, I will do a breakdown as to what the optimal course of action is for subscribing and watching everything as it comes out.

Crunchyroll: $6.67 (Premium, Annual)
Funimation Now: $6.67 (Premium+, Annual)
HIDIVE: No Subscription
VRV: No Subscription
Netflix: $4.33 (Full HD, subscribing and binge-watching once every three months)
Amazon: No Subscription
Hulu: No Subscription
HBO Max: No Subscription
Monthly Total: $17.67

Pretty much, you only need a Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Netflix subscription to watch everything that comes out these days. While the price of those subscriptions have increased, that's counteracted by the need for fewer services with Sentai opting to use Crunchyroll for simulcasts, and Amazon seemingly pulling the plug on new anime exclusives that's a huge money saver for those who are not Prime subscribers. Of course, there are other things one who subscribes to these services would want, but this is just for those who want to keep up with all the new anime shows coming out from Japan.