You might think antitrust lawyers at the Justice Department would be crazy busy, what with the lawsuit they have going against Google, as well as an investigation underway into Apple, as well as deals outside of tech. And yet, as we reported today, the DOJ has decided to undertake a close review of...wait for it… Sony’s $1.2 billion purchase from AT&T of Crunchyroll, a streaming service focused on Japanese animation, or anime. With four million subscribers, Crunchyroll is about 6% the size of Netflix in the U.S.
Sony is already a competitor in the anime market, through ownership of Funimation. Apparently the DOJ is worried that anime producers will be at risk of being unfairly squeezed out by Sony, if the Japanese company owned both Crunchyroll and Funimation. Yet Netflix is in the anime market, as is Amazon Prime Video. Neither are shrinking violets. This seems to be a wrongheaded investigation.