Things are changing for free users of Crunchyroll. According to an update on the official Crunchyroll help site, the service is ending its longstanding practice of free delayed episodes for its seasonal simulcast titles. This means that starting in the Spring 2022 anime season and moving forward, users of the Crunchyroll service without a premium subscription will have access to only a limited number of episodes from Crunchyroll’s seasonal shows. The update comes after the service’s merger with Funimation under Sony, and its release of the Spring 2022 simulcast slate.
The article states that its simulcast titles (“simulcast” refers to licensed shows that debut on a streaming service at the same time as in Japan or their source country) will require a premium subscription. Previously, simulcast titles on Crunchyroll were made available to all one week after their original air date. For example, premium users would be able to watch a show on the same day as Japanese viewers, while non-premium users could do so a week later. This change affects the Spring 2022 simulcasts, as well as future seasonal releases. Previously published episodes are still available to all user types.
For free users, Crunchyroll will offer a “seasonal sampler” with free, ad-supported viewing of the first three episodes of simulcast titles for a limited time. For Spring 2022, the seasonal sampler includes the following anime series:
- Spy x Family
- A Couple of Cuckoos
- Dawn of the Witch
- Tomodachi Game
- Skeleton Knight in Another World
- Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie
- The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody
- Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs
The first three episodes of the above titles will appear one week after their subscription-exclusive premiere. Free Crunchyroll users will then be able to view them with ads until May 31, 2022. After that, all episodes will require a subscription to stream. While this adjusted system will serve as the model for Spring 2022 and the foreseeable future, Crunchyroll pledged to continue some level of access through its ad-supported free tier and to continue offering free content going forward.
It should be noted that Crunchyroll simulcast offerings vary widely based on the country of the user. This is particularly true outside of North America and Europe. Users in Asia, South America, and elsewhere may see titles offered by competing services like Netflix, Muse, Aniplus, and others.
Crunchyroll is available on PS4, PS5, mobile devices, some smart TV models, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, and PC. Learn more about shows leaving the service in March 2022.