Is Crunchyroll's Free Membership Still Worth it?

Will Crunchyroll Remain Free, or is Crunchyroll Not Free Anymore?

Will Crunchyroll Remain Free, or is Crunchyroll Not Free Anymore?

Since the platform was first launched, Crunchyroll has had a huge audience of users on their free membership plan. However, the rules for free accounts have changed since the Funimation merger, so will Crunchyroll remain free, or is Crunchyroll not free anymore?

The Latest on Crunchyroll Free: What's Changed?

Will Crunchyroll Remain Free Spring 2022 Updates
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Initially, Crunchyroll used to allow anyone with a free membership to watch the latest anime with ads one week after they were released.

This meant free members were often an episode behind, but all shows were eventually available.

However, from the Spring 2022 anime season, new seasonal releases on Crunchyroll were no longer available to free subscribers.

At the time, it was unclear if the seasonal simulcasts would ever become available to free members. Now the new processes have been in place for over a year, we have an idea of what Crunchyroll is trying to do, and it might not be great news for free members.

Discover: The Best Isekai Anime on Crunchyroll

Is Crunchyroll Not Free Anymore?

Is Crunchyroll Not Free Anymore?
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Technically, Crunchyroll is still free, with the vast majority of anime on Crunchyroll still available for free with ads. However, a free membership won't be enough to see the latest series.

Back in 2022, Crunchyroll said it was planning on “stopping the automatic free availability of all simulcast content”. This means that if you want to watch the latest anime on Crunchyroll, you’ll need a paid membership.

Crunchyroll has clarified that ad-supported free memberships will remain for older anime titles and that more titles will be added for free viewing in future.

For example, Spy x Family, one of the first big anime to be unavailable for free members while on air, is now available for free with ads.

So, Crunchyroll is still available for free, just don't expect to watch the latest releases for a long while.

When Do New Crunchyroll Premium Episodes Become Free?

when do premium episodes become free on Crunchyroll Lycoris Recoil
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Crunchyroll has never clarified when exactly it plans to make premium, seasonal series available for free members. However, based on what we've seen so far, it appears to be at least a year's wait for the biggest series.

In August 2023, Crunchyroll announced that a new batch of anime were being added to their 'free with ads' plan. These shows included:

These were arguably some of the most popular anime series of 2022 and were likely made free with a view to new members subscribing in future. Both Spy x Family and Vinland Saga had second seasons airing in 2023 which are currently available only on premium subscriptions.

It's also notable that in the vast majority of cases above, only the first three episodes of the English dub are available for free. Dub fans will need to have a premium subscription to view the entire series.

As mentioned above, if you're hoping to watch the latest series on Crunchyroll, at least in the year they come out, there is no longer any option other than paying for a subscription.

Will Crunchyroll Remain Free?

Will Crunchyroll Remain Free?
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There is nothing to suggest that Crunchyroll is removing free memberships entirely. However, what’s available for free will likely be steadily reduced going forward.

Eventually, we may see a situation where the value of free memberships is so small that removing it doesn't appear too much of a leap.

Given Crunchyroll’s dominance over the anime streaming market, it shouldn't be too surprising if they look at a new subscription model that is more in line with other streaming services.

Despite recent changes in the market, the majority of streaming services, including anime competitor HIDIVE, all only offer paid options, so such a move would make sense from a business point of view.

However, it might not be as simple for Crunchyroll to become paid only given its history.

Crunchyroll has a huge number of free members, the majority of which later become subscribers, so they may wish to keep this revenue stream open.

There is also a huge issue with piracy in anime, and Crunchyroll continuing to offer some free series might be seen by the industry as an important part of efforts to combat the issue.

For now, you can rest assured that lots of anime on Crunchyroll remain free. If you are interested in exploring your other options, see where you can watch anime legally for free.

Discover more anime news and info by following us on Twitter @epicstreamanime.

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