Crunchyroll is abandoning free simulcast anime streaming, what should fans know?

Crunchyroll has just announced that it will be ending ad-supported free streaming of simulcast anime titles in favor of a subscription model.

While every anime fan can argue about what the industry’s “golden age” was like, the entire community will agree that accessibility has never been better.

No matter who or where you are in the world, there are plenty of options available to those of us who spend hours and hours watching the latest anime shows.

However, that accessibility is about to take a huge hit as Crunchyroll reveals that their ad-supported free anime streaming is about to end.

Crunchyroll ends free anime streaming

This week, Crunchyroll announced that the streaming platform will no longer provide free access to simulcast titles, with a paid subscription plan now required for all new shows.

GP at the Met: Fire locked in my bones | Official preview | PBS

Simply put; users will no longer be able to watch Crunchyroll simulcast anime titles for free, which were previously available to watch online one week after the premium release.

The removal of free ad-supported streaming of simulcast anime titles will start from the spring slate i.e. from Friday April 1st.st2022, this week.

Crunchyroll stated that “To view new and continuing simulcasts, a premium monthly or yearly subscription will be required.”

“For continuing series, ad-supported viewing on new episodes will not be available in accordance with the spring season, however, previously released episodes are still available for all types of users.” – Brett, via Crunchyroll Help.

The good news is that all anime episodes currently available for free on Crunchyroll will still be available to watch for free after April 1st. In a statement to Anime News Network, the platform said that episodes prior to this spring season will “still be available to watch for free with ads” and that they “only stop the automatic free availability of all content from simulcast”.

Crunchyroll to stream free anime with ‘seasonal sampler pattern

While Crunchyroll will be removing ad-supported free streaming of simulcast anime titles, they will be offering a special seasonal sampler model for the Spring slate.

According to the original post, the first three episodes of the following shows will still be available to stream for free – until April 31st.

  • Spy x Family
  • A couple of cuckoo clocks
  • The Witch’s Dawn
  • Tomodachi Game
  • Skeleton knight in another world
  • Shikimori is not just a cutie
  • The greatest demon lord is reborn as a typical person
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“The first three episodes of these spring titles will be available for free and ad-supported one week after their subscription-only premiere until 5/31. After that date, all episodes in our seasonal sampler preview will require a subscription – Brett, via Crunchyroll Help.

At the time of this update, it is unclear if any future dubs of these seasonal sampler titles will also be available for free trial.

Will subscription prices change for users?

The Crunchyroll staff blog post regarding the new free anime streaming model makes no mention of price changes for premium plans.

As of this writing, Crunchyroll still offers two different subscription plans, with three paid options, along with their 14-day free trial:

  • Fan plan: $6.50 per month, streaming on one device
  • Mega Fan package: £7.99 per month, streaming on four devices and viewing offline
  • Mega Fan Package: £79.99 per year, same benefits with 15% discount from monthly option

However, fans should note that this doesn’t mean subscription prices won’t be increased in the near future. The effects of the Crunchyroll-Funimation merger will be fully operational at the end of April and streaming platforms will be able to gauge how many subscribers they have gained/lost.

If Crunchyroll decides that not enough Funimation subscribers have switched to their service, it would be commercially reasonable to increase the price of the premium subscription package.

“We want to encourage as many fans as possible to explore new shows and see all the benefits of premium access to Crunchyroll. Crunchyroll is making over 1,000 hours available to viewers for a free sample through our ad-supported tier, and will continue to offer free content in the future. – Brett, via Crunchyroll Help.

Fans continue to vent their frustration online

Unfortunately, there is serious frustration online over Crunchyroll’s latest decision to remove free simulcast anime content.

From the quickest scroll on social media, it’s obvious that the majority of the community is disappointed with the news.

A user argued that “the free option was a saving grace for minors (no credit cards) and poorer anime fans”, adding that it’s “sad to see CR moving away from this” .

However, various users have actually come out in favor of this decision, or at least provided a valid reason why the decision was made.

“Historically, ad-supported streaming hasn’t generated as much revenue as one would hope. We saw a similar situation on Kongregate, when they had to find new revenue streams because the ads weren’t enough to meet the costs. – RealJohnnyTek user, Twitter.

By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]

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