New York Comic Con 2019 kicks off Thursday with a slew of panels covering everything from niche comics to upcoming blockbuster films.
But inarguably the biggest draw for the more than 200,000 fans set to attend the four-day convention are the TV-related hits for shows like HBO’s “Watchmen,” AMC’s “Walking Dead” universe, CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery” and the forthcoming “Star Trek: Picard,” M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ thriller “Servant,” The CW’s “Batwoman,” Netflix’s “Daybreak,” TNT’s “Snowpiercer,” Amazon Prime Video’s “Jack Ryan” and “The Expanse,” and a 20th anniversary tribute to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spinoff “Angel” — just to name a few from the long list.
That impressive lineup of series, to be showcased from Oct. 3-Oct. 6, is due to both the growing reputation of the 13-year-old con, which is put on by ReedPOP, within the industry and it’s placement within the TV season, which traditionally runs September-May for broadcast, but year-round for cable and streaming.
“On a business level, obviously we’re in October, and that is just absolutely prime for launching TV,” ReedPOP’s director of studio relations, Brien McDonald, told TheWrap. “Talent is ready, they’re out on their junkets, all of the cast and creators are available. It’s full-on promotional mode and that’s a lot of fun to work with studios to play within those parameters, because it’s full speed and it’s excellent media play.”
“Media just gets so thrilled about everything that we can put at their fingertips,” he continued. “And what’s good for us is that TV is where it’s at. It’s where the most coverage comes from. It is the steady flow of content in all entertainment media and we can give reporters content for not only during the show, but it has a longer tail.”
While McDonald says the Manhattan-based con’s TV-related panels and events have grown 20-25% each year since he started with ReedPOP in 2014, it’s not all about TV, as NYCC event director Kristina Rogers is charged with dividing slots “fairly evenly” between TV and film, publishers and creator-focused programming.
“I think a big part of our identity syncs up so beautifully with TV in October, but for the rest of the industries as well, we like being the last show of the year,” Rogers told TheWrap. “We like people ending their year at New York Comic Con. Because after New York, there’s really not a ton of [comic on] shows, if any, that happen and it’s pretty quiet until February when comic cons start trickling back again. So we’re the last beat and we like to be a strong finishing note.”
Rogers also noted that New York Comic Con makes a point of being New York Comic Con.
“We’re the show for New Yorkers, so we’re big and we’re brash and we’re bold and we’re bringing all of the best new stuff,” she said. “And we’re what New Yorkers want from their comic con. I think every show does that for their attendees. San Diego [Comic-Con] International does that for theirs and they obviously pull internationally, too. But for the East Coast, we are the biggest show out here. So our job is to bring that sensation to our fans, regardless of what they’re into.”
McDonald says that one of the biggest draws for TV studios is NYCC’s ability to show “premieres upon premieres” within the Javits Convention Center, Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center and the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“That’s become more of a focal point for studios and broadcasters,” he said. “And it’s become really, really critical for Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The first thing we carve out is extra time to show those Episode 1s. So that is a unique thing we’re able to do.”
While McDonald starts planning “in earnest in June,” as soon as SDCC ends in July, it’s “full tilt” scheduling for NYCC. But that’s not to say New York is getting San Diego’s leftovers.
“It’s really quite simple and there’s no — to be really frank — there’s no turf battle between us and San Diego, there’s not really a seesaw or a push-and-pull. These things, I’ve found, always come down to timing. So when are the big marketing beats hitting for particular series? When do the publicity junkets start in earnest? Talent availability is the other major factor and now, more and more, it’s content availability. When will they have something new that someone hasn’t seen that we can show where it makes sense?”
“Thankfully, because of our reputation, New York Comic Con has become part of the comic-con industry’s choreography,” he added. “We had to work really hard to get there, but it’s a moment of pride when a studio is building their big beats around our show and when they’re going to premiere an episode, they’re building it around New York Comic Con. And we’re very fortunate to have gotten there.”