DC Entertainment is feverishly looking to exploit how its iconic comic book characters save the day across a wide variety of platforms from films to smartphones. The hard part is making sure fans can keep up.
The company quietly launched “DC All Access” in October as a weekly online series it hoped would provide a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the comic book giant.
Twelve episodes, hosted by Blair Herter, a former regular of G4’s “Attack of the Show,” and Tiffany Smith (see above), were initially ordered. But after viewership has grown for the initial eight episodes that have been produced, DC has expanded the series’ run to a second season with 24 episodes.
Produced by Telepictures Prods, a sister Time Warner-owned company behind “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Extra” and “TMZ,” “DC All Access” features Herter and Smith interacting with DC executives in the company’s Burbank and New York headquarters or attending events like Comic-Con to shed light on the latest films, TV shows, video games, animated projects, and of course, comic books to feature characters from DC, Vertigo and MAD.
That essentially means anything having to do with the company’s more iconic heroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Arrow and the rest of the Justice League, as well as characters like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman or long running series “Fables.”
Each episode is available on DCComics.com and the company’s YouTube page. While viewership isn’t massive by any means so far, it has grown. On DC’s YouTube page, the first episode was viewed by 86,186. Episode 7 is up to 116,327. The eighth installment bowed Tuesday. See some of the videos below.
The first installment focused on the new “Superman & Wonder Woman” comicbook, MAD-sponsored commercials and a recap of New York Comic Con, for example. Other episodes have featured cast members from “Arrow,” taken a look at the “Batman: Arkham Origins” game, the making of “Man of Steel,” Zack Snyder’s 75th anniversary Superman short, and served up the only interview with Jim Lee on DC’s move from New York to Burbank.
But producers of “DC All Access” always aimed to do so from a fanboy’s perspective.
“We wanted to make fans aware of stuff we think is cool as fans,” said Jason James, VP of interactive marketing for DC Entertainment, who grew up on comics. “It’s how I learned to read.”
In addition to providing fans a closer look at DC from within, the series also served as a way to attract an audience to a corporate website that while it was relaunched in 2012, has long been short on compelling content.
DC felt a series like “DC All Access” was necessary to control the message of how it promoted its characters, especially as YouTube networks are targeting its same audience. But it had to be careful not do so with a glorified infomercial.
The key is to “talk like a fan,” James said. “Fans can smell authenticity. YouTube leveled the playing field. What you do has to come from a genuine place. And if you call it ‘All Access’ you have to give them all access or people will call you out on it.”
Telepictures typically shoots two episodes of “DC All Access” back-to-back early in the morning from DC’s Burbank headquarters, whose lobby resembles Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, complete with costumes from “Man of Steel.”
Herter and Smith were chosen after DC conducted a host search. It wanted two individuals who were not only fans but had chemistry and could speak to each other as fans. “It was important we had the right mix,” James said. “Both are super fans.”
“Our fans have proven to be the most passionate and engaged audience among all areas of pop culture. ‘DC All Access’ is an opportunity for those fans to get to know DC Entertainment and its amazing employees, characters and stories in an even more personal and accessible way,” said Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment.
“This is something I would have wanted to host even it wasn’t being made,” said Herter, on set wearing a Green Lantern T-shirt. “To get this kind of access to the minds behind what I love is a nerd’s dream come true.”