Crunchyroll Gets Offline Playback Later This Year, Sorry Funimation Subscribers

Tsukigakirei key visual.
Tsukigakirei key visual. (c) studio FEEL.

In great news for anime fans who have resisted the expensive siren call of Amazon’s Anime Strike or Netflix’s increasingly juicy anime repertoire, Crunchyroll will add offline streaming to its features list later this year.

“Our breadth of titles and relationships within the anime industry can’t be beat,” a Crunchyroll representative stated to Polygon. “We know offline streaming is important to our viewers, and we're working to bring this feature to the platform in 2017 so that fans can keep up with their favorite shows wherever they are.”

Amazon Prime’s Video service has allowed viewers to download their favorite TV shows and movies for offline viewing since September 2015. Netflix introduced the feature in early 2017 to all streaming plans in two quality options, Standard and Higher.

FunimationNow users don’t enjoy offline viewing of their shows either, although subscribers can choose to only view shows while connected to WiFI in order to avoid exorbitant data charges.

And Hulu is getting offline playback soon as well. In an interview with AdWeek , Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said playing content offline was “definitely on our road map. It's something that we're going to be doing in a few months. We're working hard on the technology around that and getting the rights squared away.”

Funimation’s strength lies in its growing home-video and DVD business, but it would be unwise for the company to ignore its streaming service, recently rebranded as FunimationNow. And they aren’t. In a statement to iDigitalTimes, a Funimation rep said, “Funimation is actively exploring off line viewing as well as other technology solutions to deliver the best entertainment experience for our fans.”

While there’s no information on a time window for offline viewing in FunimationNow, Funimation is playing catch-up in terms of this feature and should certainly put a little pep in its step in order to implement it. Just a few episodes of anime can chew up a data plan and spit out its sad, expensive bones very quickly, and if there’s one thing anime fans love, it’s bingeing a favorite show or catching up on oldies but goodies all in one fell swoop.

Wherever internet access is expensive or limited, viewers want to be able to enjoy their content offline. After all, they’ve already paid for it. And Amazon and Netflix are two major movers eager to carve out their slice of the anime audience, known for its passion and capacious wallets. Crunchyroll’s commitment to getting offline streaming to its subscribers indicates how important that feature is, especially in the face of an increasingly competitive anime ecosystem.

Do you use offline playback on any of your platforms of choice? Are you excited for Crunchyroll and Funimation to get with the program, or is this a feature you’ve already done without? Do you binge your anime all at once or would you use offline playback just for a few scattered episodes here and there? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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