In possibly the one move many fans of Comic-Con International could never have expected, the company have announced that they are teaming up with Lionsgate to create a brand-new video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service, screening “a broad portfolio of content including original short-form content created exclusively for the channel’s subscribers, films and television series from Lionsgate and other studios designed to appeal to the diverse interests of Comic-Con’s fan base as well as exclusive archived footage from Comic-Con’s 45-year history”, launching later this year.
This is exciting news, especially for fans of not only the convention itself but of con-related pop culture in general, as the official word has it that the service will be made available worldwide, putting content in the browsers of fans, finally putting the ‘International’ in Comic-Con International. CCI have put a temporary portal in place on their website, with a form which allows interested fans to submit their email to be kept updated once the ball starts rolling. (This portal may also give us a clue as to the services eventual name: Comic-Con On Demand.)
The partnership has apparently been in the pipeline for over two years, with both companies in discussion about the best methods on how to get the programming to its subscribers. David Glanzer, CCI’s Director of Press and Public Relations, says:
“…We have been extremely impressed with Lionsgate’s embracing and understanding of fan culture. Working with our Lionsgate partners has been an exciting exercise in finding great ways to expand our horizons to deliver the unique magic of Comic-Con and the celebration of comics and popular art to our fans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and around the world.”
You hear that, Brit-nerds? ‘Around the world’! We’re actually being invited to this party, this time, not just gatecrashing it like we usually do!
Lionsgate themselves are also pretty stoked about the arrangement, fully aware that they will have a captive audience, vying for every scrap of Comic-Con content they can get their hands on. “As a next generation studio, Lionsgate has grown up with Comic-Con, and their fans are our audiences,” said Lionsgate President of Interactive Ventures & Games, Peter Levin. “We’re excited by the opportunity to expand and enrich the world of Comic-Con for existing fans and extend it to a whole new global audience with a channel distinguished by its imaginative curation, depth and diversity of content and fierce loyalty to the Comic-Con brand.”
Two big questions still linger: with the announcement stating that the service will kick off ‘later this year’, does this mean it will be in place by San Diego Comic-Con 2015? Fans who have been denied entry to the event, thanks to brutal badge sales, have been clamouring for live panel streaming for years and events such as Nerd HQ have proven for the last two of those years that it can be done, albeit via video streaming sites like YouTube. So, could we finally see streamed panels, broadcast live to the world or will it be, if the arrangement cannot come to full fruition by July, least looking at footage recorded at this years event to kick things off?
And, two: are we international fans going to be getting the full package as well? Many UK VOD viewers are all-too-familiar with the ‘Video has not been made available in your country’ title boards that litter online content and videos from the U.S. Here’s hoping that CCI are managing to sort out any copyright and broadcast niggles such as this to provide a full service to us outside of North America.
The service will come into competition with WizardWorld‘s recently launched nerd-geek culture streaming site, ConTV, which hits a snag for us in the UK, what with it being – you guessed it! – ‘unavailable in our region’; there’s also the small matter that the exclusive panel content available appears to be from only this last years WW events. That content shortage will be one thing this new CCI/Lionsgate service will not be short of, with Comic-Con International littering video cameras around the entire San Diego Convention Centre, and filming what appears to be pretty much every panel in recent years. That’s a lot of material to draw from.
No word yet on what format this new service will take, whether it will be purely device-based (computers, tablets, phones, etc.) or whether it will be available on services such as Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, etc (fingers crossed for iTunes. On me Apple TV, that would be so sweeeeeet…!), likewise, there’s no word yet on how much will cost, especially to us outside of North America. Here’s just trusting that they don’t forget us – watch this space…