Not every niche provider of streaming video on-demand is having the success that WWE Network is. In fact, Lionsgate is bailing on Comic-Con HQ, about 18 months after it launched the ad-free subscription video app, reports Variety in an exclusive. Instead of selling video subscriptions, Lionsgate will license current content to other platforms like Amazon Channels, Roku and tubiTV, which are ad-supported. According to Variety, apps for the channel have been removed from Google and Apple’s app stores, but consumers have not yet been notified.
Lionsgate partnered with Comic-Con to launch a free beta video app in May 2016 to capitalize on Comic-Con’s huge fan base. The idea was to offer classic sci-fi and fantasy titles and live streams of Comic-Con events, along with original programming and bonus features. The beta version was launched on Free Comic-Book Day in 2016, with the official debut in June 2016, about a month before Comic-Con International.
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Variety reports that Comic-Con HQ has stopped producing original content, and it did not add any of its 2017 Comic-Con panels to the content library. It isn’t clear how Lionsgate and Comic-Con HQ are executing the shut-down of the service. A visit to Comic-ConHQ.com shows this header:
When clicking on the link to Amazon Channels, it reveals a subscription link to the Comic-Con HQ service for $4.99 a month, after a 7-day free trial.
A visit to the Amazon Channel page shows that in addition to top movies and popular series, Comic-Con HQ has some original shows including Con Man, The Series, Kings Conversation, and Adam Sessler & Interesting People.
This is an interesting shift to see a company like Lionsgate try – and apparently fail – at the subscription model. This model tends to be flexible and easily adapt to a wide variety of products and services, but it has been used particularly successfully in the world of streaming video content. At this early stage, it is not clear why Lionsgate made the decision to go the licensing route. If they are, indeed, pulling out as Variety reports, we are concerned about existing subscribers and how they are learning about the change and how it will affect subscriptions – and retention – moving forward.