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Comic-Con broadens appeal with SVOD, Massive HALO expands the approach

Jul 28, 2016 | By NScreenMedia

Comic-Con and Lionsgate are working together to help the huge convention expand the breadth and depth of engagement with the comic book community. Massive, a key part of the project, wants to bring the same approach to smaller content owners.

The objective for Comic-Con HQ

Comic-Con has been at the heart of the comic book community for 46 years. The San Diego convention has grown from just 300 people to over 130,000 attendees over the years. The convention organizers wanted to find a way to extend the experience beyond the bounds of the 3-day event.

Earlier this year, Comic-Con announced it would work with Lionsgate to create an SVOD service called Comic-Con HQ. The $5 a month service aims to broaden the reach of the convention in two ways:

  • Enabling convention attendees to extend their relationship with the comic community to 365 days a year
  • Broadening the reach of the convention to those unable to attend.

Technology approach

Lionsgate turned to Massive to help build all the apps that would be required. Massive also provides the video asset management necessary to ensure those apps keep pace with the rapidly evolving video inventory during and after the convention.

Using the Massive AXIS app platform, Lionsgate was able to quickly deploy apps on all of the main connected platforms. This includes:

  • iOS, Android and Microsoft mobile devices
  • PC browsers
  • Connected TVs via game consoles, Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming media players

Massive was able to quickly deploy the apps leveraging AXIS’ drag-and-drop interface. Speed of deployment is enhanced because much of the app functionality is implemented in the cloud. That means less app code needs to be ported to each of the many connected device app platforms.

This cloud app architecture also allows Massive to quickly modify how the deployed apps behave. This was essential during the convention. Comic-Con HQ broadcast many of the sessions live. These sessions were immediately converted to on-demand assets, joining the vast array of material available in the VOD library of the service. Lionsgate and Comic-Con wanted to change the way the content appeared in the apps dynamically to prioritize the live and most recent assets. Massive Axis was able to accommodate this by generating smart feeds that combined manually curated and rules-based content.

Comic-Con HQ was released before the convention started, but there was a huge push at the event to promote the service. Working with billing provider Vindicia, the convention organizers created a variety of promotional coupons and free trial codes. Some of these were timed to start on July 25th, the day after the convention finished. According to Vindicia, this led to huge surge in people signing up for the service on the last day of the convention.

Massive Halo opens up the Comic-Con approach

Massive does not want to see the benefits of Axis reserved for large providers such as Lionsgate. It wants to bring the technology to mid-tier and small providers. To that end, today the company is announcing a new product called HALO. Ron Downey, CEO and Co-founder of Massive, says it should help bring many of the benefits of AXIS to smaller content owners. HALO is targeted at video solution providers. It will allow these partners to create end-to-end solutions specifically targeting the video market segments they serve.

HALO leverages the same core video app server approach as AXIS. However, it provides a streamlined set of features more appropriate to a fully integrated solution. Massive will run HALO as a service for its partners. Mr. Downey expects tier 1 providers will still prefer the more complete functionality provided in AXIS.

The approach could be a boon to smaller content owners wishing to emulate the approach of Comic-con HQ, while avoiding the complexities inherent in big app deployments.

Why it matters

Many niche communities are developing large libraries of video content covering every aspect of their specialty interest.

The technology exists to create a service to provide access to this library, but it is typically beyond the means of mid-tier and small providers to leverage it.

The technology to create end-to-end solutions targeting these affinity groups is beginning to emerge.

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