San Diego Comic-Con is underway

sdccMovie studios skip the gathering, leaving TV wide open

The world’s largest pop culture convention is back for another go-around.

San Diego Comic-Con (or Hollywood South as many dub it) launched Thursday at the San Diego Convention Center. The gathering is expected to attract close to a million people over the next few days as geeks and fans from around the world attend panels, buy merchandise – and of course, look and browse through at the latest comics. At times, the convention center can be just as crowded as Michigan Ave. is during rush hour.

For San Diego, this is the second biggest event the 28th-largest market hosted this month: two weeks ago, the city hosted the MLB All-Star Game from Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

As been the case over the last twenty years or so, movie and TV studios have been coming down to San Diego to show previews of their product. But many movie studios have shifted away from Comic-Con over the years due to increasing expenses – a reason used in the past by studios who abandoned big booths on the floor at NATPE in the early 2000s.

In fact, only two studios are presenting at Comic-Con this year: Marvel and Warner Bros., who is bringing new movie Suicide Squad. Paramount held a huge screening for new release Star Trek: Beyond, but it was Wednesday night and not officially part of the Comic-Con festivities.

The movie studios’ absence is a huge opportunity for TV and they have filled the void fast. Over 80 shows plan to have a presence at this year’s con, perhaps as a result of the “Peak TV” phenomenon, or “Too Much TV” as industry wags has called it.

Many new shows are presenting here, including Fox’s Lethal Weapon. And there are scores of existing shows, from newbies like Con Man to veteran shows like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead.

All current adult animation shows are being represented at the Con, from South Park to Bob’s Burgers to the venerable Simpsons.

Not all panels are about TV shows. Others are about art, breaking into the business, and of course, there are many panels regarding artists, writers, and storyboard people behind your favorite graphic novel or comic book. In fact, there are over 200 panels at Comic-Con.

TV and media coverage

It’s been tough to find live coverage of Comic-Con over the last few years, especially after G4 folded. Well, that changes this year: As mentioned here, NBCUniversal-owned SyFy is airing  an hour prime-time coverage from the San Diego floor for three straight nights, hosted by Will Arnett. Thursday night had a feature on Star Trek: Beyond , a new movie being released Friday. And speaking of Friday, Sharknado’s Tara Reid will be on hand to preview the upcoming Sharknado 4 airing on SyFy on July 31 (a listing on SyFy’s website said however, that Reid would be appearing on Saturday.)

Shifting to streaming coverage, the newly launched Comic-Con HQ plans several hours of live coverage on its website, primarily during daytime hours. If you missed it, don’t worry: all of HQ’s coverage is archived and available on-demand. Some of the panels from this year’s Con will be available on the channel soon.

Syndicated magazines also have a presence at Comic-Con. Longtime stalwart Entertainment Tonight is bringing its entourage to the Con this year with a booth, while rivals Extra and Access Hollywood are sending correspondents.

In addition to numerous blogs, Hollywood trades also having a presence with The Hollywood Reporter and Variety covering the fest. The Los Angeles Times also is covering the event though its Hero Complex website. And if you’re wondering, San Diego’s six TV stations are covering it from a news perspective.

As for T Dog Media, yours truly won’t be in San Diego for the festivities (sadly), but keep an eye out for my commentary on Twitter and I’ll post links on social media all weekend. If possible, one or two Comic-Con posts may show up here on T Dog Media itself, so stay tuned.