Comic-Con Considering Broadcasting Hall H And Archival Panels

Comic-Con International is launching their own SVOD platform May 7 called Comic-Con HQ. They used the recent WonderCon convention to launch their alpha, and that's where we spoke to Executive Vice President and General Manager of Comic-Con HQ, Seth Laderman. The big question is: Could Comic-Con HQ stream Hall H panels for people who don't get in, or aren't even in San Diego, to see?

"That is the big question," Laderman said. "The short answer is yes. We're going to be working with every single studio, every single panel host to be able to take the content and put it on our platform. We're not going to be live streaming anything because we really don't want to take away that experience of people who are the first to see and be there for it, but we can put things up shortly after." 

One option to maintain some exclusivity at Comic-Con is to offer the panel session on Comic-Con HQ, but not the footage shown in Hall H. "That is one of the options as well and we're going to be working with all the studios and the panel hosts to figure out what would be the best way to handle that," Laderman said. "Because a lot of these studios have their marketing plans and how they want to control their assets. We're really just here as a conduit to be able to help promote everyone, similar to what Comic-Con is, so whatever's best for them will be good for us."

It will really be on a case by case basis, as some studios and networks want to include their footage in a Comic-Con HQ package. "NBC gave us an exclusive clip for Emerald City that's on our alpha version of our platform right now that nobody's ever seen before," Laderman said. "So there will be studios that are going to want to engage our audience and spread everything out through that but other ones that are going to want to keep it closer in their own platforms, and I think that's perfectly fair."

Perhaps more importantly than the big ticket Hall H panels, Comic-Con HQ could stream small, niche panels that are often sparsely attended. If you missed a panel that sounded interesting because you couldn't get out of the Hall H or Ballroom 20 line, that panel may still be on Comic-Con HQ.

"To me it's not so much just about Hall H because there are hundreds of panels," Laderman said. "I still want to get cameras in the smallest rooms because they may not have the broadest audience out there but it's still an important part of what Comic-Con is and I want to be able to allow everybody to see everything."

Laderman's goal is to extend the Comic-Con experience year round. That includes original programming which they've announced, and 300-400 licensed film and TV shows including bonus content as one would find on a DVD. Since Comic-Con HQ is streaming VOD, originals can be any length.

"The beauty is in this world, every show needs to be as long as it needs to be," Laderman said. "We're more so probably going to be shorter form, in the 10-15 minute range at first but some shows are going to be 20-30 minutes, some shows are going to be a little longer. As long as they need to be is what we're going to be providing."

It's really been in the last 10-15 years that Comic-Con grew to somewhat unwieldy sizes. For fans who only got into Comic-Con in those years, Comic-Con HQ also plans to unearth archival materials to resurrect the history of Comic-Con.

"They've been recording content for 40 years now," Laderman said. "We have tapes that are like Betamax from 30 years ago so we're in the process of digitizing everything right now and seeing what the pieces of content [are] but the goal is really to be able to enjoy the history of Comic-Con and be able to provide that content for the audience."

That is the rabbit hole I would go down. Forget about what Marvel footage they're showing in July. I want to see what Comic-Con was like in the '90s, or even 2005, the year before I started going.

"There's a lot more content from the '90s and '00s than there was in the '80s and '70s but we still have some great stuff and that's what we want to be able to do, whether it's historic panels or just the masquerade or anything that's on the floor or around town," Laderman said.

With so much material potentially available, Comic-Con HQ is still working on organization. "That is actually the question that boggles my mind every day," Laderman said. "When you have so much content, how do you make it easily accessible? So we're working hard on just making the bucket to make it look really organized, making the search functionality really great. Where I can type in 2005 Comic-Con and everything from 2005 Comic-Con will come up. We're working on making it easy for people to see."

Comic-Con HQ launches May 7 on Free Comic Book Day, via web browser and mobile devices. Future plans include Roku, Apple TV and Xbox One and more devices in the works.