Crunchyroll will no longer offer free ad-supported streaming for newly released episodes, the anime streaming service has announced in an update on its site (via Gizmodo† Viewers who want to watch episodes of new or ongoing series will need to upgrade to one of Crunchyroll’s premium plans, which start at $7.99 per month.
Users didn’t need a subscription to watch simulcast titles before the change, but there was a trade-off: Crunchyroll would delay the release of new episodes by a week for free users, while allowing subscribers to watch them an hour after their premiere in Japan. This was something that I (and many other people who use Crunchyroll for free) were happy to deal with as long as I could actually see the new episodes.
But now Crunchyroll is blocking free users from watching delayed simulcasts. The service’s policy will go into effect this spring, as Crunchyroll plans to give users access to a “seasonal sampler,” or a selection of simulcasts that debut in Spring 2022, including Spy x Family† A few cuckoos† Tomodachi game, and others. Crunchyroll offers the first three episodes of each show for free in the sampler a week after their premiere until May 31. Any viewing after the first few episodes or access to Crunchyroll’s full simulcast lineup requires a subscription. Crunchyroll says all users can still watch free episodes previously added to the platform.
It’s unclear whether Crunchyroll will continue to offer season samplers beyond Spring 2022, or when episodes from this season’s lineup will be free to watch in the future. The edge reached out to Crunchyroll for comment, but didn’t hear back immediately.
Sony, which also owns Funimation, acquired Crunchyroll in a $1.175 billion deal last year, but the service has only recently begun to make major changes. Earlier this month, Crunchyroll announced it would inherit Funimation’s anime library in an effort to gradually merge both services. While Crunchyroll says it will “continue to offer free content in the future,” doing away with free delayed simulcasts is a bit of a blow to fans who have been using the service for free for years, and also raises the question of whether Crunchyroll will. decide to lock other content behind a subscription.