Crackle is an over-the-top video streaming platform that is a joint venture between Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. Its library consists of original content as well as programming acquired from other companies. The service is available in 21 countries on connected devices including mobile, tablets, smart TVs, desktop, and gaming consoles. Crackle is also available as in-flight entertainment and in selected hotel chains. Founded as an independent company and originally known as Grouper, the streaming service was purchased by Sony Pictures in 2006 who renamed it to Crackle in July 2007, then to Sony Crackle in January 2018. Sony then sold majority of it to Chicken Soup for the Soul in March 2019, which immediately renamed it back to Crackle.
Josh Felser, Dave Samuel, Mike Sitrin, and Aviv Eyal founded the online video site Grouper in 2004. In August 2006, Sony purchased Grouper for $65 million, later renaming it to Crackle.
In July 2007, Sony rebranded Grouper as Crackle, a multi-platform video-entertainment network and studio. Early features included movies and television shows from Sony's library, and original content made for the Internet In late 2008, Crackle was moved to Sony's Culver City base, to be included in the studio's digital content operations. In March 2011, Crackle launched streaming services on Bravia TVs, PS3, Roku boxes, and Sony Blu-ray players. The following month, Crackle announced that it would release apps for Android and iOS systems later that June. Crackle also partnered with Xbox Live, making its content available for Xbox 360. In June 2013, Crackle released an app for the BlackBerry 10 platform. In December 2013, Crackle made its content available for the Apple TV set-top box. In January 2012, Crackle added Animax to its content, available to viewers in the US and Canada. Towards the end of 2013, the Animax branding was removed. In Australia, Crackle became the free-to-air home of Sony's popular American soap operaDays of Our Lives, after the television broadcaster Nine Network axed the series after 45 years. Several anime shows from Funimation are streamed on Crackle.
On April 1, 2014, Sony Pictures Television ceased its Crackle operations in the UK and Australia without prior notice. Crackle UK had struggled against competitors like LoveFilm and Netflix. NBCUniversal Television & New Media Distribution struck a deal with Crackle to add over 140 NBCUniversal movies to the Crackle library. On April 30, 2014, Crackle announced it would begin carrying Sports Jeopardy!, a sports-themed version of the game show Jeopardy!. Dan Patrick will host the series. Approximately one week after the cancellation of the theatrical release of The Interview, in the aftermath of the Sony hack, the New York Post reported that Sony would release the movie for free, on Crackle. On April 14, 2015, Crackle announced a new feature dubbed "Always On"; an ad-supported, internet television channel similar to Vevo TV. Crackle announced its first animated series, SuperMansion; their first hour-long scripted drama, The Art of More; and , a sequel to 2001's Joe Dirt. On October 8, 2015, Crackle premiered SuperMansion, a stop-motion animated comedy television series created by Matthew Senreich and Zeb Wells. The series stars Bryan Cranston, Heidi Gardner, Tucker Gilmore, Keegan-Michael Key, Tom Root, Yvette Nicole Brown, Wells, and Jillian Bell. In 2017, Crackle announced that the platform would greenlight an original drama The Oath, written and created by former Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy Joe Halpin. Executive produced by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and his G-Unit Film & Television Inc., the drama series stars Sean Bean, Ryan Kwanten, Cory Hardrict, Arlen Escarpeta, Katrina Law, and J.J. Soria, and premiered on March 8, 2018. In November 2017, Eric Berger became Sony Pictures Television Networks' chief digital officer in addition to his role as GM at Crackle.
On January 14, 2018, the company announced that the name of the service would be changed to Sony Crackle in spring 2018. On March 28, 2019, it was announced that Sony would sell its stake of Sony Crackle to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, with the service rebranded as "Crackle" again. On May 30, 2019, Crackle shut down its operations in Australia, pulling the app from stores. In January of 2020, Crackle moved offices from the Sony lot in Culver City to Santa Monica, California.
Crackle is owned by Crackle Plus, a joint venture between Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Sony Picture Television. Other Crackle Plus VOD platforms include Popcornflix, Truli, and Pivotshare. Crackle features programming in the following genres: action, comedy, crime, drama, horror, and sci-fi.
Crackle is available in 21 countries and in three languages: English, Portuguese, and Spanish. In other countries, it is possible to access the service using a virtual private network, although this is not a practice that is authorized by the company which can result in the same type of fines for using illegal streaming software. Crackle was launched in Canada in September 2010. Beginning in late 2015, several of the service's original series were made available only through the local services Crave TV and Shomi. Following the closure of Shomi in fall 2016, new productions continued to be released exclusively on Crave TV, as well as Amazon Prime Video and Super Channel. Crackle's Canadian operations were shut down on June 28, 2018, and its content was moved to Bell Media's CTV Movies and CTV Throwback services. Despite Crackle being a Sony owned service, the successor CTV app has not launched on Sony's PlayStation or Smart TV platforms, but ironically has become available on competitor Microsoft's Xbox One console and Samsung's Smart TVs. As of late 2016, Crackle in Latin America is only available as an ad-free paid service. Subscribers must have a pay-TV service provider that has partnered with Sony Crackle in order to access the service. Crackle was discontinued in Latin America in April 30, 2019.