New York Comic Con cancels in-person convention, will head to YouTube

Sarah Whitten

New York Comic Con won’t be taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan this year. Instead, the annual event will find a home online, due to ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

ReedPop, a producer of pop culture events, has partnered with YouTube to livestream panels from Oct. 8-11. This is similar to San Diego Comic Con, which held virtual sessions last month.

Last year, more than 200,000 tickets were sold for New York Comic Con, which typically takes place over the course of four days and offers fans panels, meet-and-greet events and a chance to score limited-edition merchandise.

San Diego Comic Con sees around 135,000 attendees at its in-person convention each year, but it’s unclear how many tuned in for its collection of online panels. Another ReedPop event, BookCon, which takes place in New York, typically sees around 20,000 folks show up over the course of two days. In May, the virtual version of the event garnered more than 396,000 video viewers.

Over the years, ReedPop has expanded the convention beyond the 840,000-square-foot exhibition space of the Javits Center to include six other locations nearby, including Madison Square Garden and the Hammerstein Ballroom. 

The in-person convention is estimated to bring more than $100 million to New York, as attendees pay for hotel rooms, take public transportation and dine at restaurants all around New York City.

This year’s online version will feature panels from Starz’s “American Gods,” a “Star Trek” panel from CBS All Access, a showcase of television animation from Dreamworks and a panel from Hulu and FX featuring their upcoming slate of programs. More panels will be announced in the coming weeks.

Panels will feature live chats so that fans can engage with each other and participate in Q&As. Fans can also join the ReedPop Discord community, an online instant messaging service, to further discussions and participate in tabletop game nights. 

Additionally, the online convention will allow for meet and greets, live Q&As, personalized autographs, videos and professional workshops, ReedPop said.

There will also be a virtual marketplace for exhibitors and creators to showcase their items. This is likely a replacement for the often jam-packed convention floor and Artists Alley, which are staples of NYCC. 

Artists Alley, in particular, is a huge draw for convention attendees. It is a space within the convention center where approved artists and writers sell prints, pins, books and stickers, as well as meet with fans and sign autographs. A table costs around $500, but artists are easily able to recoup that cost during the convention and often are introduced to industry professionals who can help jump-start their careers.

ReedPop said it would provide more information about how the virtual marketplace would operate in the coming weeks.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal owns Dreamworks and CNBC.

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