According to an update on its site, Crunchyroll will no longer offer free ad-supported streaming for new episodes. If you want to watch episodes of new or continuing series, you will have to upgrade to one of the premium plans.
Before the change, users didn't need a subscription to watch simulcast titles, but there was a tradeoff, as new episodes would be delayed by one week for free users, while subscribers could watch them one hour after their premiere in Japan. As long as I got to watch the new episodes, I was happy with the situation.
The new policy goes into effect this spring
Free users are no longer allowed to watch delayed simulcasts. The service's policy is set to go into effect this spring, as it plans to give users access to aseasonal sampler, or a selection of simulcasts set to debut during the spring 2022. The first three episodes of each show will be free after their premiere on May 31st. Any viewing past the first few episodes will require a subscription. All users can still watch episodes that were previously free on the platform.
It's not clear when the episodes from this season will become available for free viewing in the future, or whether seasonal samplers will continue beyond spring 2022. The Verge reached out to Crunchyroll but didn't hear back.
The service has only recently started making major changes after being acquired by Sony. In an effort to gradually combine the services, Funimation's library of anime will be taken over by Crunchyroll. It's a blow to fans who've been using the service for free for years, and also raises the question of whether or not the service will continue to offer free content going forward.