Comic-Con HQ’s Seth Laderman Talks Making Comic-Con A Year-Long Experience, Pricing And Original Content

Comic-Con HQ subscription service will stream panels and original programming.
Comic-Con HQ subscription service will stream panels and original programming. Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International tickets are selling out faster each year, leaving thousands of prospective attendees disappointed and counting the days until they can try again.

The pop culture convention draws about 130,000 attendees each year. When tickets went on sale in February, they were gone in less than 40 minutes.

So how can those not attending Comic-Con experience the convention? In the past, you’d have to read the trades on all of the happenings at Comic-Con, or pray for a stream hosted by an outlet like Marvel.

However, in 2016, a new streaming service from CCI and Lionsgate called Comic-Con HQ will allow those who cannot attend be a part of the festivities from the comfort of home or on the go.

“Comic-Con has done an amazing job building one of the best events in the entire world by programming what they want to see. And they’ve done a great job of capturing this stand piece and creating an amazing event,” EVP and General Manager for Comic-Con HQ Seth Laderman told iDigitalTimes.”So it’s only natural for us to work with them on a daily basis. It’s really been a very collaborative approach as we are learning what they know about the audience and as we are developing the content and the technology.”

Laderman joined Comic-Con HQ after being the head of production for Legendary Digital and Nerdist Industries, and spent the past eight to nine months coming up with the best way to experience Comic-Con digitally all year long with coverage and original programming.

The free Comic-Con HQ beta launches May 7 on desktop browsers, and on iOS and Android. Xbox One, Roku and Apple TV will follow shortly thereafter, with plans for other platforms to join after the first wave.

During the weekend of March 25, Comic-Con HQ will unveil its Alpha version of the site at Comic-Con International’s other convention, WonderCon . Attendees will be able to navigate through and test the site, and also see the wireframe of how Comic-Con HQ will look.

“It’s really hard to fully describe or compare [how it’s supposed to look] but it will have a look that is similar and comfortable for people to be able to navigate through and see, but we will add our own little flair to it so people will know it’s Comic-Con HQ,” Laderman said. “So when everyone gets to see it they’ll understand, and you’ll see, that we’ll have a similar look like most of these sites do. But this is an ever evolving world and we are continuously doing research and exploring and testing out new options and really trying to figure out the best way to make a lot of content easily accessible and searchable for the audience.”

There is currently no price point for Comic-Con HQ, but the alpha reveal at WonderCon and the beta testing following the May launch will help the team determine the price of the new streaming service.

Laderman is confident the eventual price will work for the Comic-Con community.

“We are currently exploring the best prices,” Laderman said. “We are not interested in competing with the Netflix, Hulus or Amazons. We want to keep HQ at a price point where it’s accessible to everyone. A unique, affordable all inclusive experience with everyday value that people will get much more than just content, they’ll be part of a community...But it’s going to be something that will be very competitive for the amount of content that we have and it’s going to be very reasonably priced.”

The content Laderman refersto is not only the Comic-Con coverage but also the original programming that was recently announced. This includes scripted and unscripted series like the Her Universe fashion show with Ashley Eckstein, and Kings of Con from Richard Speight and Rob Benedict.

Comic-Con HQ will also have weekly programs from G4 alum Adam Sessler and Kevin Pereira, and a movie talk show with Complex’s Collider. Laderman credits the combination of his time at Nerdist and the talent of these content creators for the evolution of the new streaming service.

“It started with authenticity, credibility and passion. I come from working at Nerdist so I’ve been in this world a long time and i know a lot of these people. And you can’t fake passion in this community so you know we were very fortunate that Comic-Con has fostered a really strong community throughout the years and as we were waiting for this [HQ] we were looking for the perfect kind of ambassadors,” Laderman said. “Some of them came to us, we reached out to some but first and foremost it was really about who we wanted to create shows with. It was important to work with people who understand and are a part of the community, because that is the most important to us,to be authentic and stay credible to our fans out there.”

Laderman expects Comic-Con HQ to succeed as an everyday streaming service due to original programming that will give subscribers fresh content every week alongside archived Comic-Con footage from past years.

“We’re still finalizing our full on program. But what we are really thinking is, we have our recurring series, the two Pereira is producing three that Sessler is executive producing the one he is in as well as our movie talk show. So those will be coming out every week or every other week,” Laderman said. “Meaning, in a given week we will be releasing anywhere from four to five pieces of original content. And when we have our serial shows like The Kings of Con or the Her Universe fashion show or the Jason Latimer science show they will be releasing weekly but throughout the year.”

The preliminary plan is for Her Universe to run until Comic-Con;when that’s finished another show will begin. When that show is winding down, another series will begin with a the goal of distributing content on a regular basis year-round.

But the main goal of Comic-Con HQ is to be ready for this year’s convention in July, and Laderman fully expects HQ to provide as much coverage for subscribers as possible.

“We are still working on the full plan of exactly what we are going to be doing. There’s so much that happens there but our goal is to work with all the attendees, all the exhibitors and be able to capture as much as possible,” Laderman said. “The beauty is we live in an on-demand world, so whether it’s live or put up shortly thereafter we can have the crews and the talent there to capture as much as possible for people to see. Will it be everything? Probably not because there’s just a lot of content, but our goal is to cover the event as much as possible.”

And before you ask: no, the panels shown in Hall H will not be broadcast live. To many con-goers, these panels are the main reason to attend every year. This is where many of the upcoming year’s biggest movies and television shows reveal details and new footage. It’s also where many of the biggest stars attend.

“We are likely never going to be streaming any of the panels [in Hall H] live. That is one part of the experience that we don’t want to take away from the fans,” Laderman said. “Some wait in line hours if not days to be able to experience that. So, again, in this on-demand world we want to be able to present that to people at a later time. So we won’t be taking away that experience that the people are the first to see."

While many of these panels won't be broadcast live, Laderman assured that Comic-Con HQ will be working with the panel hosts to put them up shortly after they are complete, including the panels in Hall H.

Exploring San Diego with friends and the community is a big part of the unique experience Laderman mentions and is a large reason people continuously want to be a part of the event, but he hopes that Comic-Con HQ can enhance the con-goer experience for those who are able to make it out to San Diego as well as those unable to attend.

“What we are going to do is bring the experience for those who can’t be there but in addition we are going to enhance the experience for those who do attend. Because there’s over a thousand hours of content and activities galore that are at Comic-Con so it is literally impossible to see everything.

So we hope to do for even those in attendees that are there is capture what they are not able to see and when they are at home or at night or waiting on line they are able to catch up during the day while they were seeing something else.”

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