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AMC Networks acquires Sentai Filmworks and HIDIVE

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  • [Streaming] AMC Networks acquires Sentai Filmworks and HIDIVE

    Widgets Magazine
    https://www.amcnetworks.com/press-re...atform-hidive/
    AMC NETWORKS ACQUIRES LEADING GLOBAL ANIME DISTRIBUTOR SENTAI, INCLUDING DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER ANIME PLATFORM HIDIVE

    Acquisition Extends AMC Networks’ Position as the Global Leader in Targeted Streaming, with an Expanding Array of Services that Super-Serve Passionate Fans

    New York, NY (January 5, 2022) – AMC Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: AMCX) announced today it has completed the acquisition of Houston-based Sentai Holdings, LLC (“Sentai”), a leading global supplier of anime content and official anime merchandise, with brands including the anime-focused HIDIVE direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service. The acquisition includes all of the member interests from Cool Japan Fund, Inc., a public-private Japanese investment fund.

    With strong industry relationships and access to key content creators in Japan, Sentai distributes and curates one of the anime industry’s most diverse libraries of top trending and classic titles, with its content available on Crunchyroll, Hulu and Amazon Prime, among others. Sentai’s HIDIVE streaming service represents a strong new addition to AMC Networks’ portfolio of fast-growing targeted offerings, which includes AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK. AMC Networks, the global leader in targeted streaming, has forecast its targeted streaming portfolio will have exceeded nine million paid subscribers by year-end 2021, with 20-25 million paid subscribers by 2025.

    Japanese anime is a rapidly growing entertainment category, with a highly-engaged global fanbase propelled by its unique aesthetics and evangelical fans, convention culture and increased online accessibility.

    “With a seasoned team, strong content and direct-to-consumer offerings for fans around the world, Sentai is a key global player in anime,” said AMC Networks Interim CEO Matt Blank. “This acquisition builds on AMC Networks’ already strong IP and franchises, and furthers our targeted streaming strategy of super-serving passionate audiences with content depth, curation and community. With the addition of Sentai, we see an even greater opportunity to build on AMC Networks’ position as the global leader in targeted streaming, as we continue to grow a sustainable and long-term profitable streaming business that will be transformational for our company.”

    John Ledford, Sentai’s Founder stated, “We are thrilled by AMC Networks’ acquisition and are excited to be a part of their growth strategy. This acquisition will not change Sentai’s mission to deliver the most exciting anime content to audiences around the world — it will expand it greatly and will give our content businesses more distribution, more partnerships, more scale and more reach. I could not be more pleased.”

    Sentai’s executive management team of Ledford, Griffin Vance, and Paul Clinkscales, will continue on in senior roles.

    PwC Advisory LLC acted as financial advisor, Arnold & Porter and Shiomizaka acted as legal counsel, KPMG FAS Co., Ltd. acted as financial advisor, KPMG Tax Corporation acted as tax advisor, and A.T. Kearney K.K. acted as Strategic advisory to Cool Japan Fund, Inc. in connection with the transaction. Paul Clinkscales led the transaction for Sentai. Hughes Hubbard & Reed acted as legal counsel to AMC Networks.
    https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/amc...ve-1235147279/
    AMC Networks has acquired Cool Japan Fund’s anime content distributor Sentai and its assets, including niche subscription streaming service HIDIVE.
    Sentai’s anime-centric direct-to-consumer platform will join AMC Networks’ lineup of targeted streaming services, which includes AMC Plus, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK.

    Those digital offerings are in addition to the company’s linear channels AMC, BBC America (a joint venture with BBC Studios), IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv and IFC Films.

    Per AMC Networks, “With strong industry relationships and access to key content creators in Japan, Sentai distributes and curates one of the anime industry’s most diverse libraries of top trending and classic titles, with its content available on Crunchyroll, Hulu and Amazon Prime, among others.”
    Japanese anime is a hot commodity these days, with major players like Sony Pictures Entertainment recently loading up on assets in the genre, one that has a large and vocal global fanbase and convention culture. Sony’s Funimation group closed its $1.175 billion cash purchase of anime business Crunchyroll from AT&T last August.

    Along with HIDIVE, Sentai’s brands include SentaiFilmworks.com, Anime Network and Sentai Studios. Among Sentai’s large catalogue of anime titles are “MADE IN ABYSS,” “Akame ga Kill,” “Food Wars!,” “Clannad,” “Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?,” “High School of the Dead,” “Girls & Panzer,” “No Game No Life,” “K-On!,” “Assassin’s Pride” and “Parasyte -the maxim-.”

    Along with its announcement of the Sentai-HIDIVE acquisition, AMC Networks said Wednesday it expects to reach between 20 million to 25 million paid subscribers across its streaming services by 2025. The company had previously estimated it would hit a combined nine million paid subs by the end of 2021, but has not yet confirmed if it reached that goal.

    Sentai’s executive management team of founder John Ledford and Griffin Vance and Paul Clinkscales will continue on in senior roles as the brand moves under AMC Networks. The company’s purchase of Sentai includes all of the anime distributor’s member interests from its former parent company, Japanese investment fund Cool Japan Fund.

    “With a seasoned team, strong content and direct-to-consumer offerings for fans around the world, Sentai is a key global player in anime,” AMC Networks interim CEO Matt Blank said. “This acquisition builds on AMC Networks’ already strong IP and franchises, and furthers our targeted streaming strategy of super-serving passionate audiences with content depth, curation and community.”
    Ledford added: “We are thrilled by AMC Networks’ acquisition and are excited to be a part of their growth strategy. This acquisition will not change Sentai’s mission to deliver the most exciting anime content to audiences around the world — it will expand it greatly and will give our content businesses more distribution, more partnerships, more scale and more reach. I could not be more pleased.”
    Last edited by WTK; 01-05-2022, 05:30 PM.

  • #2
    Wait--what?! That's random.

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    • #3
      ...Out of the companies to acquire Sentai Holdings, they absolutely were not on my radar.

      Comment


      • #4
        I knew someone would acquiring Sentai in the near future, but the fact that it was AMC is a bit surprising. I guess this does explain the recent discounts they offered to each other’s customers. I received emails promoting HiDive a few weeks ago from Shudder.

        I expect AMC to be a merger or acquisition target in the near future, especially if the Discovery/Warner deal is allowed to go through. I think they would be a good fit with Viacom as far as catalogues go, or possibly LionsGate, but there aren’t too many smaller players left and most of the big boys would have a hard time getting an acquisition approved.

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        • #5
          I'll say this, of the players that could have bought out Sentai without provoking inquiry from the Department of Justice, AMC seems like one of the more...surprising but at the same time fitting choices. All things considered it isn't Netflix or Disney so I'll give this a fair shake.

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          • #6
            A sense of "Sentai is now scraping by in an anime-in-America world dominated by one or two big players" had been gathering for a while, but the company being bought just hadn't quite occurred to me. For all that I don't have a HiDive subscription (supposing I'll just buy whatever they stream that really catches my attention from Sentai, although that didn't work out with the original Legend of the Galactic Heroes...) and look at the Blu-Rays that come in these days with the idle thought an awful lot of them are from Discotek, I'd at least ordered a few upcoming Sentai releases lately. I suppose I can't or shouldn't speculate too much more past that, but recollections of the days when ADV had been laying plans to expand beyond DVDs into "everything" do come to mind...

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            • #7
              Maybe this explains why Sentai was able to acquire the Ingress dub from Netflix? If that’s the case why couldn’t this of happened earlier for Kakegurui?
              "WHO ARE YOU CALLING A RUNT SO TINY HE CAN ONLY BE SEEN THROUGH A MAGNIFYING GLASS, YOU JERK!!!!" - Edward Elric

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              • #8
                Interesting. I figured Sentai would need to be acquired by a bigger company to survive eventually, but I associate AMC so strongly with its cable channels that this was still surprising. It'll be interesting to see what it changes, if anything.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by dragonrider_cody View Post
                  I guess this does explain the recent discounts they offered to each other’s customers. I received emails promoting HiDive a few weeks ago from Shudder.
                  I got HIDIVE promo email last month for AMC+.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dragonrider_cody View Post
                    I expect AMC to be a merger or acquisition target in the near future, especially if the Discovery/Warner deal is allowed to go through. I think they would be a good fit with Viacom as far as catalogues go, or possibly LionsGate, but there aren’t too many smaller players left and most of the big boys would have a hard time getting an acquisition approved.
                    Lionsgate acquiring AMC Networks would be particularly interesting in the context of this Sentai acquisition for two reasons:

                    1) Due to their acquisition of Starz several years ago, that makes Lionsgate the current stewards of the remnants of Manga Entertainment (U.S.). Acquiring AMC Networks wouldn't at all necessarily produce anything of consequence in that regard, but it would at the very least be amusing to those in the know.

                    2) More notable is the fact that such an acquisition would mean that Sentai's physical releases would consequently be distributed by, as all Lionsgate releases are, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. I don't know that that's inherently a plus or minus, but certainly would feed into the doomslinging narrative that SPE Inc., and in turn big Sony Corp., holds too much power in the domestic anime market.
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                    • #11
                      Well, that explains why AMC+ was being promoted from Sentai even though there's no anime content to speak of over there. It turns out that Sentai was acquired by AMC (which is not the same company that owns the theater chain). It's no secret that Sentai needed a stable source of funding as ever since their partnership with Amazon ended, they have had a hard time staying afloat. They were able to find an opportunity when the partnership between Crunchyroll and Funimation expired, but now that those two are under one roof again that they just couldn't stay afloat unless they found a buyer. And not to mention with Netflix getting even more involved and now Disney has entered the industry. It will be interesting to see where this goes, but now all players in the simulcast industry are now owned by megacorporations with Sony owning Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Aniplex, Netflix and Disney being behemoths in the entertainment industry, and now AMC owning Sentai and HIDIVE, while everybody else is just putting out home video releases.
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                      • #12
                        Not sure how to feel about this. Guess this just leaves Discotek as the only true independent Anime distributor now.
                        Like we need more big giant corporations with ownership of just about everything. How long before Hi-Dive's prices increase or you are forced into a bundle like Disney does with their stuff?
                        For example I finally got my parents to cut the cord and get Hulu+LiveTV. I pay the standard Hulu portion and just ask them to pay me the difference for the LiveTV+DVR. Starting last month though Disney is now forcing you to pay extra every month to get Disney+,ESPN+. Garbage I don't want and we don't need. Look at other providers like YoutubeTV and how other big megacorps are trying to strong arm them into forced carriage of certain bundle of garbage. (One that accounted for a whole 15$ a month for the end users).

                        I don't use it often, but I subscribe to Hi-Dive just to support Sentai and the industry. Because it's so cheap to do so. I might not continue to do so if the prices increase.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MrMcBonk View Post
                          Not sure how to feel about this. Guess this just leaves Discotek as the only true independent Anime distributor now.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MrMcBonk View Post
                            Not sure how to feel about this. Guess this just leaves Discotek as the only true independent Anime distributor now.
                            Like we need more big giant corporations with ownership of just about everything. How long before Hi-Dive's prices increase or you are forced into a bundle like Disney does with their stuff?
                            For example I finally got my parents to cut the cord and get Hulu+LiveTV. I pay the standard Hulu portion and just ask them to pay me the difference for the LiveTV+DVR. Starting last month though Disney is now forcing you to pay extra every month to get Disney+,ESPN+. Garbage I don't want and we don't need. Look at other providers like YoutubeTV and how other big megacorps are trying to strong arm them into forced carriage of certain bundle of garbage. (One that accounted for a whole 15$ a month for the end users).

                            I don't use it often, but I subscribe to Hi-Dive just to support Sentai and the industry. Because it's so cheap to do so. I might not continue to do so if the prices increase.
                            Prices on the Live TV portion of Hulu were going to increase with or without bundling of Disney+ and ESPN+ honestly. Services like Hulu + Live TV, DirecTV Stream, YouTube TV and fuboTV generally have a price increase once per year (sometimes two per year). Sling TV & Philo try to minimize this. Usually Hulu + Live TV have increased prices in the past in $10 or $15 increments in the past. The fact Disney only increased the price by $5 while adding in Disney+ and ESPN+ is the cheapest increase Hulu + Live TV has seen.

                            AMC Networks on the other hand has maintained stable pricing for its various streaming services like Shudder, Sundance Now, ALLBLK, etc. The only thing that changed was they got rid of AMC Premiere ($4.99/mo, required user to have a pay-TV provider) and expanded it into AMC+ (standalone, $8.99/month includes Shudder, SundanceNow, IFC Films along with AMC & BBC America content).

                            I can see AMC Networks leaving HIDIVE as is so people can pay for just HIDIVE. However I wouldn't put it past them to make it part of AMC+ in the future in addition to the standalone option.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MrMcBonk View Post
                              Not sure how to feel about this. Guess this just leaves Discotek as the only true independent Anime distributor now.
                              There are actually quite a few independent anime licensors left out there in the home video market, but the problem is now the streaming market (both SVOD and free) is no longer the Wild West where you can go it alone and expect to find an audience. Subscriber bases plateau if you don't have someone with deep pockets behind you for advertising and gaming the algorithm in your favor, and if an app marketplace gatekeeps you out it's good to have someone with influence to wedge their foot in the door.

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