Pros & Cons of SDCC’s Streaming Service Comic-Con HQ

Pros & Cons of SDCC’s Streaming Service Comic-Con HQ

Comic Con HQ

Comic Con International’s exclusive streaming/video-on-demand site Comic-Con HQ launched on May 7th, but it’s real test will come when San Diego Comic Con gets underway on July 21st 2016. For the first time in the con’s history, no badge, no problem – content will be made (legally) available online.

[Scroll down for updated impressions of Comic-Con HQ during SDCC.]

I was curious what it was all about, so I signed up. Not without some difficulties though. At the first step of the registration process I was met with a message saying the service was only available in the United States; however, I am in the United States so I emailed support. (Strike 1, Comic-Con HQ). I did hear back from them the next day, but they needed more details to help resolve the problem. In the meantime I was able to successfully sign-up from my work computer so problem not so much solved as sidestepped.

But back to the topic at hand, based on what I’ve read and from my own experience with Comic-Con HQ, here’s some of the pros and cons of the new streaming/video-on-demand site:

Pro:

  • Not everyone can make it to SDCC for any number of reasons, so the chance to see content and / or panels that are otherwise available exclusively at the con is somewhat enticing.
  • I’m going to assume the videos on their platform from the con will be better quality than what I’ve found posted on YouTube, which usually have poor audio and the tops of people’s’ heads in the frame.
  • Potentially there could be more panels available than what one can find on YouTube. The more in demand Hall H panels are never an issue to track down, but some of the more niche things have proven more difficult.
  • The streaming service will offer more than panels. Comic-Con HQ is also touting daily entertainment news, behind-the-scenes access, movies & TV shows, and original series like Con Man, the Alan Tudyk created web series. (Lionsgate has some stake in the site, so their library of movies make up most of that category.)
  • It’s device friendly, or it will be. Comic-Con HQ is currently available online at comic-conhq.com and via their Android and iOS apps. They are working on expanding it to the likes of Playstation, Roku, Amazon, and Apple TV.
  • Closed Captioning is available making the video content a bit more accessible for all fans.
  • It’s commercial free.

Con:

  • It’s not free (technically). Currently you can sign up for free during the trial period, which runs through the last day of the con, but after that there’s a flat monthly rate of $5.00 or an annual pass for $50.00.
  • SDCC could potentially make it harder to find videos on YouTube since they’d presumably want to strong-arm people to use their streaming service.
  • 20th Century FOX pulled out of SDCC primarily because of the new streaming component. Their argument doesn’t really hold up, but it’s certainly a bummer for anyone interested in their upcoming projects.
  • It’s only available in the United States, sorry International fans.
  • It’s new and still in beta. And what I mean by that is, is the platform ready to handle all the traffic that may come its way? I have no idea what kind of numbers Comic-Con HQ will receive once SDCC kicks off, but HBO GO has had issues during Game of Thrones, the WatchESPN app couldn’t handle World Cup traffic, and even the new Pokemon app is not without technical issues. It would be a bummer if the site turns out to be a glitchy mess. Even in this soft launch it hasn’t been perfect, if you scroll through older visitor posts on their Facebook page you’ll find a handful of people having problems viewing the videos.
  • Panels will not be streamed live, which is fair to the people who paid good money to be there and stood in a line for hours to make it into the room, but it’s still a con for Comic-Con HQ. Also, we’re only a few days out and there is still no information on the site about when panels will even be made available online.

Just a reminder, these are my pros and cons prior to the kick-off of San Diego Comic Con. I’m hoping to update this blog a few times throughout the weekend to comment on how well the site is working and on whether or not it succeeds at making you feel like you aren’t missing out.

Until then, what do you think of Comic-Con HQ? Would you pay for it? Do you think comic-con content should be shared with a wider audience or does it take away from the experience of actually being there? Let me know in the comment section below.


Friday Update:

Comic-Con HQ wants to be the ‘video streaming destination’ for comic con, but it feels like they’re 5-10 years too late to make that claim. Live streaming is all the rage these days, and SDCC content is literally everywhere. SyFy has dedicated live programming every night, Entertainment Weekly Radio on Sirius XM is covering it non-stop, and then there’s social media and all the other entertainment websites posting their own panel recaps, interviews, and related videos. Plus, there’s The Nerd Machine, whose quality counter-programming is both free and live-streamed on YouTube.

Conversely, Comic-Con HQ still hasn’t made any 2016 panels available yet and if you miss any of their live programming you have to wait until the next day for it to be posted. (Or so it seems.) I’ll check back tomorrow but my current impression of Comic-Con HQ is pretty meh. I can’t imagine ever paying for it when it’s so easy to find better and more timely coverage of the con and the things I care about elsewhere.

Saturday Update:

Still no 2016 panels and the behind the scenes content is still “coming soon”. Comic-Con HQ might be a cool thing to hold you over during the other 361 days of the year, but in terms of actual coverage during the con, the site’s been downright disappointing so far.

Sunday Update:

Drumroll… and there still aren’t any 2016 panels on the site. The only ‘new’ content added beyond the daily interviews was movie trailer premiers, which of course are already all over the Internet by now. The free subscription period ends tomorrow so I cancelled mine, or I tried to. Once again it looks like there’s an issue, but that’s a different story.

Bottom line, Comic-Con HQ is not worth spending money on and as it is today – it’s certainly not the best place to find panels or any other info that comes out of SDCC.

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Written by Jamie Paton

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