Comic-Con is leveling up. But will it work?
Launching this June, Comic-Con International — the annual San Diego convention that is the Mecca of geek culture — have joined with Lionsgate to create Comic-Con HQ, a paid subscription VOD channel similar to G4tv, a geeky premium cable channel that ceased in 2013. Open beta access begins on May 7 (otherwise known as Free Comic Book Day).
In addition to “unparalleled” streamed access of the convention, Comic-Con HQ will offer original scripted and unscripted shows, entertainment news commentaries, and access to a “growing library of live and archival” shows from previous Comic-Con events, likely meaning all their panels. There will also be a “selection of film and TV genre titles.”
“For nearly half a century, Comic-Con has served as the definitive common ground where the fans of genre entertainment come together to express their passion, said Comic-Con HQ EVP and General Manager Seth Laderman in the press release. “Comic-Con HQ aspires to extend [the convention] 365 days a year, bringing everything we love about Comic-Con to the world in ways never before seen and experienced.”
Comic-Con HQ’s similarities to G4tv doesn’t end past its premise. The new initiative recruited G4tv alums Kevin Pereira and Adam Sessler to executive produce the channel’s weekly news and commentary shows, with Sessler hosting his own interview series. Other programs on the “fast track” include an all-female roundtable series and a show based on Collider’s Movie Talk.
Since NBCUniversal turned off the lights at G4tv due to narrow foresight (check out GoodBadFlicks’ The Rise and Fall of G4tv for an explainer) there has been a void in mainstream fanboy programming. Twitch, the free online portal where viewers can watch gamers play video games, took off in the wake of G4tv’s death like a rocket because of its direct offerings and free accessiblity, which G4tv could not offer as a cable channel.
But Twitch and the similar YouTube Gaming offers “programs” a la carte, made cheaply by gamers independently streaming via webcams. Comic-Con HQ seems to be more organized and professionally put-together, but will it actually offer what nerds want? That challenge doomed G4tv. If the geek demo doesn’t get what they want, they’ll let you know. And asking them to pay for it complicates things further.
Comic-Con HQ will launch its beta on web browsers and iOS/Android devices. The paid subscription service will be available on Roku, AppleTV, and Xbox One, and more platforms later in the year.