Crunchyroll quietly announced on Friday it is ending one of the primary perks of its free tier. In an update spotted by Anime News Network, the company said it no longer plans to offer ad-supported simulcast streaming of new series. Previously free users could watch new shows shortly after their Japanese debut as long as they were willing to wait a week and sit through commercials. By subscribing to one of Crunchyroll’s premium plans, you can watch simulcasts one hour after their premiere in Japan.
In the immediate future, Crunchyroll will allow free users to access a “seasonal sampler” that will include a selection of simulcast content from the platform’s upcoming spring lineup. That sampler will allow free users to watch the first three episodes of shows like Spy x Family, Dawn of the Witch and Tomodachi Game one week after their platform debut until May 31st. To watch all new and continuing series in their entirety, free users will need to subscribe to one of Crunchyroll’s premium tiers, which start at $8 per month. All currently available content will continue to be available to watch for free.
“We want to encourage as many fans as possible to explore new shows and see the full benefits of Crunchyroll premium access,” the company said. “Crunchyroll makes more than 1,000 hours available for viewers to sample free of charge through our ad-supported tier, and will continue to offer free content going forward.”
The announcement comes just weeks after Crunchyroll, following Sony’s $1.175 billion deal to buy the service in 2020, said it was adding more than 50 Funimation series to its back catalog, and that all future shows acquired by Sony would debut on its service.