Breaking Storytelling Boundaries With Crunchyroll

COO Gita Rebbapragada on the strategic innovations driving the animation streamer's growth

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In this episode of The Speed of Culture, host Matt Britton sits down with Gita Rebbapragada, chief operating officer of animation streaming service Crunchyroll. Rebbapragada shares insights on how anime differentiates itself with storytelling that pushes traditional boundaries, the evolving landscape of content creation and Crunchyroll’s strategic role within Sony Pictures Entertainment’s ecosystem.

Anime, a centuries-old art form from Japan, has become a cultural phenomenon influencing millions globally. In this episode, Rebbapragada explains the expansive world of anime and its profound impact on both art and society. As COO of Crunchyroll, she offers a deep dive into how anime continues to captivate a diverse, global audience with rich narratives and unique artistry.

Rebbapragada has a robust background in marketing and operations, and has significantly contributed to the growth and globalization of anime. Her career spans various sectors, including technology and entertainment, where she has consistently leveraged her expertise to enhance user engagement and expand market reach. At Crunchyroll, she focuses on innovative content delivery and harnessing fan-driven communities to propel the platform’s success in the streaming industry.

“I’m magnetically drawn to a market opportunity that hasn’t existed—building something new,” she says on the podcast. “But those windows can change very, very quickly.”

Listen to Rebbapragada on The Speed of Culture podcast and gain insights into the transformative world of anime, its global impact on storytelling and the strategic innovations driving Crunchyroll’s success.

Key takeaways:

00:01:06-00:03:58 Understanding Anime’s Unique Appeal — Anime is an art form that transcends typical storytelling boundaries, using rich narratives and deeply flawed, relatable characters that resonate with viewers, particularly during their formative years. For brands, incorporating genuine, relatable storytelling can strongly resonate with consumers.

00:05:16-00:06:15 Globalization of Anime Content — As anime evolved from a Japanese-centric to a globally consumed medium, Rebbapragada highlights the incorporation of non-Japanese stories, such as Korean IPs, into the anime format. This adaptation has helped broaden the appeal and relevance of anime worldwide. Brands can take away the importance of cultural inclusivity and adaptation in content creation to engage a broader audience.

00:07:48-00:10:03 Strategic Integration Within Sony — Crunchyroll has leveraged Sony’s diverse assets, from gaming to music, to enhance the anime viewing experience and create synergies within the Sony ecosystem. This integration has been crucial in maintaining a competitive edge. Brands should leverage cross-industry partnerships and internal synergies to enhance product offerings and consumer experiences.

00:10:47-00:12:31 Navigating Streaming Challenges — Discussing the sustainability of streaming platforms, Rebbapragada explains how Crunchyroll has managed economic challenges by focusing on passionate markets and developing an ecosystem that includes merchandise, gaming and more. This approach helps maintain engagement and reduces churn. Brands can learn from this by creating comprehensive ecosystems around their products to enhance customer retention and increase lifetime value.

00:14:03-00:16:11 Impact of Short-Form Content on Anime — Addressing the rise of platforms like TikTok, the trend is toward short-form content as an opportunity to engage with Gen Z consumers who are accustomed to rapid content consumption. This can be a new avenue for brand messaging and engagement.