From Disney to CBS, a growing number of media players are turning to standalone subscription services to sell their content directly to consumers. As the market for monthly OTT platforms becomes increasingly fragmented, though, the question is how far the trend can continue until consumers have had enough. This year, Comic-Con crossed that line.
Comic-Con HQ, which launched back in 2016, was designed to cater directly to the audience of Comic-Con attendees that descend upon San Diego every summer. Te channel featured an array of scripted and unscripted original content, including Kinds of Con, a comedy series inspired by real-life fan convention experiences from Supernatural stars Richard Speight and Rob Benedict. 18 months on, though, Comic-Con has decided to cancel the service after failing to get traction.
In recent months, Variety reports that Comic-Con HQ scaled down, and ultimately stopped, its original content, not even adding this year’s Comic-Con panels to its catalogue. Instead, it relied mostly on movies from Lionsgate’s catalogue.
The decision highlights just how hard it is for subscription services to compete with other platforms for a monthly slice of someone’s income – even if it has sizeable in-built audience. Platforms such as Amazon Channels, which collate OTT services and apps for Amazon Prime members to add them as bolt-on subscriptions, may help to combat that. Indeed, Comic-Con HQ is still available on Amazon Channels, while the service’s content is expected to be licensed out to other streaming services, such as Roku Channel and American ad-supported service Tubi TV.
There are more than 100 niche OTT services in the market, but Comic-Con HQ’s closure follows similar decisions from NBC and its paid comedy service, Seeso, and short-form video platform Vessel. Verizon also planned to launch a standalone AwesomenessTV channel, but that has now been axed too.
Comic-Con SVOD service unveiled ahead of June launch
15th March 2016
Comic-Con International and Lionsgate have officially unveiled the plans for their new subscription VOD service.
Dubbed Comic-Con HQ, the streaming platform was first announced last year during San Diego Comic-Con, and will launch this June in time for the 2016 event in July.
The ad-free streaming service will feature an evolving slate of programming including original scripted and unscripted series, recurring daily and weekly entertainment commentary, plus unique access to a growing library of live and archival programming from SFCC, as well as a selection of film and TV shows, including behind-the-scenes bonus features.
“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 for comics and pop culture,” says Seth Laderman, EVP and General Manager for Comic-Con HQ. “Comic-Con HQ aspires to extend that exchange 365 days a year, bringing everything we love about Comic-Con to the world in ways never before seen and experienced. The new platform will provide a year-round destination to enjoy all facets of the community and access the vast diversity of content the world has come to expect from the largest and longest-running pop cultural celebration of the year.”
The service will include daily and weekly news and entertainment commentary, with G4 alum Adam Sessler (X-Play) exec producing programmes about comics, science and gaming, as well as hosting his own interview series. Fellow G4 star Kevin Pereira (Attack of the Show) and his company, Attack Media, will exec produce an entertainment pop culture news show and a late night talk show format. Other planned formats include two roundtable discussion shows, one weekly movie talk, in partnership with Complex’s Collider, and an all-female panel discussing pop culture from a female perspective.
Third party genre titles and entertainment news, though, is something that anyone can get for free on the web, so Comic-Con HQ will also be relying on those two magic words to stand out from the crowd: original content.
The service’s current slate of scripted and unscripted series is as follows:
Kings of Con
A scripted comedy series inspired by real-life fan convention experiences from Supernatural stars Richard Speight and Rob Benedict.
A science entertainment show, starring world champion illusionist Jason Latimer, who explores breakthrough technologies capable of achieving his seemingly impossible feats of magic with real science.
An unscripted series with the fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand, hosted by founder and actress Ashley Eckstein, following contestants as they design their geek couture concepts for the catwalk of a live San Diego Comic-Con fashion show in July.
And, of course, the service will also include live-streams of San Diego Comic-Con events, select panels and other events not available to the public before, such as the Masquerade and the Eisner Awards. Members will also get access to exclusive interviews and previews, with a growing library of new and old panels and behind-the-scenes content.
Comic-Con HQ will open its doors on a free, beta basis on Free Comic Book Day – 7th May – ahead of its launch proper. The site will be compatible with browsers and iOS/Android devices and will roll out across more devices in the coming months, including Roku, AppleTV and Xbox One.