With San Diego Comic Con two weeks away (less if you count preview night) there’s lots of news about what we can expect to geek out about in 2015, however it’s news about what’s coming in 2016 that has me blogging.
Like the US election cycle, news for SDCC is an everlasting affair, where people of all fandoms and opinions weigh in far before and long after the event itself. And soon people who don’t even attend in person will have the capability to bring their squees or nerd-rage to the table with SDCC and Lionsgate’s live streaming coming in 2016.Collider posted the press release, which though full of information is vague enough in areas that leaves things open for speculation and questioning.
First, while Collider and IMDB are describing this as “Live Streaming” the rather uninformative page listed on Collider’s site as http://comic-con.org/ondemand re-directs to http://comic-con.lionsgateapp.com/ where this is what we see
Now the concept of live streaming can leave some thinking that you may only watch panels/events while they’re on. Something that nerds (if they can get enough bandwith) might enjoy, if they’re waiting in line or squatting through My Little Pony for Orphan Black in 6A, are are therefore missing out on Hall H or Ballroom 20 goodness. “On Demand” however is a notion of watching whenever you want. Meaning I can spend all day in Hall H to enjoy some of the smaller panels later.
On some level SDCC has already sold the rights to recording of panels and the release of what were once “exclusive” trailers and sneak peaks. An entire post last year went up because I considered whether it was worth a wait in line over night if anyone and everyone could just tune in the next morning.
So for now since we don’t know the level of live streaming vs on demand, let’s just refer to this as Subscription Access. And until the level and convenience of access is determined, we can only guess at the following questions
For example, will this be available only to attendees?
Realistically I think that the answer is NO. If it were only open to attendees then SDCC wouldn’t really be expanding their opportunity to reach (and by reach I mean charge) nerds for their event.
How then, if at all will this affect attendance. Again, realistically, there likely won’t be an impact to SDCC attendance for a long time (unless things like the hotel sale keep going so terribly awry). Even if everyone attending in 2015 decided not to return next year, hundreds of thousands of people who’ve never been will still digitally queue up to get badges to make the pilgrimage to San Diego.
If this won’t affect attendance though, will it affect morale? Here I think things are a bit more complicated, but I think it’s safe to say yeah, probably. After all geeks don’t just spend their money getting to SDCC, they spend their time and energy. Some driving, some flying and most (if not all) waiting in lines. It’s all done for a one-of-a-kind experience, that on some level feels cheapened if anyone can experience it with zero effort.
Speaking of cheapened, what’s the impact going to be to different outlets like Entertainment Weekly if SDCC stops letting them post panels, because now they’re the ones streaming with Lionsgate? Likely Comic-Con International has done the math and sees green by keeping the subscription access to themselves. What this might affect though is coverage. In the same way that Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have affected broadcast television.
We live in a world where viewers want what they want, when they want it, and with the ability to have it, those feelings of access on a personal schedule aren’t going to change. On one side I’m someone that has in years past over $1,000.00 in badges, hotel, parking and food just for a four-day event (a low amount considering some pay much more if they don’t room with friends, or park at the airport). Once I’m at the event though I’m spending time and energy to see things that NO ONE ELSE gets to enjoy. And that means, as selfish as it sounds I don’t want to share.
On the other hand, who am I (an individual with a relative’s HBO Go password, a sister’s Hulu account, and a co-worker’s Starz On Demand access) to judge?
Are we not living in an age where access is considered share-able? Maybe. However fans of television shows don’t flock by the thousands spending lots of money and time just to watch episodes. No. Fans of shows like Game of Thrones, Outlander and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. flock by the thousands spending lots of time and money to watch exclusives at SDCC… exclusives that maybe anyone will be able to view by this time next year.