Calling all nerds and geeks: Legendary Digital Networks wants to sell you a monthly membership centered around unscripted original series spanning fantasy, sci-fi, gaming and comedy from its Nerdist and Geek & Sundry programming brands.
Priced at $4.99 per month, LDN’s Alpha service will be available starting Nov. 3. The lineup will include new original shows such as “Vast,” starring comic-book creator Jackson Lanzig; weekly live game show “Majority Rules”; “Sidekick with Matt Mira,” featuring the Nerdist podcast co-host; and reality series “Escape,” hosted by comedian Janet Varney. Alpha also will feature new seasons of existing Nerdist and Geek & Sundry series including live-action D&D show “Critical Role” (pictured above) and “TableTop” with nerd icon Wil Wheaton.
The Alpha SVOD service is yet another entry into the burgeoning space, a bet that relatively low-priced niche offerings can attract paying audiences. Others in the category include Fullscreen’s SVOD service, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, NBCUniversal’s Seeso comedy network and Acorn TV, alongside more mainstream-targeted players Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and HBO Now.
But Legendary Digital says Alpha is more than just a me-too SVOD play. Execs tout the service’s interactive platform as designed for audience participation with its content, while Alpha subscribers also will have access to special members-only events, prizes, product discounts and other perks.
In addition, members will have access to select episodes of fan-favorite Nerdist and Geek & Sundry shows 48 hours before the shows are available elsewhere. Those are set to include “The Dan Cave” hosted by Nerdist senior editor Dan Casey, “Co-Optitude” featuring Felicia Day and Ryon Day, “Because Science” hosted by Nerdist science editor Kyle Hill.
LDN will offer early access beginning Oct. 3 to select users who sign up at alphainvite.com.
Shows to be available on Alpha include:
- “Critical Role: Alpha”: Show from Geek & Sundry combines role-play gaming and improv, using Dungeons & Dragons as the launchpad. The new iteration of the show will include special real-time character sheets, damage and heal animations, and visualizations allowing viewers to embark on Tal’Dorei. Featuring popular animation and video-game voice actors including Matthew Mercer, Travis Willingham, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Sam Riegel, Liam O’Brien, and Laura Bailey. (For non-Alpha members, “Critical Role” will still be free to watch on Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel at 7 p.m. PT on Thursdays.)
- “TableTop” Season 4: Wil Wheaton invites his friends to share witty banter, cheeky camaraderie, and curated board games. Premiering on Alpha exclusively this fall and available on other platforms in early 2017.
- “Escape”: Hosted by comedian Janet Varney, show brings together guests including Josh McDermitt (“The Walking Dead”), Alison Haislip, Ingrid Oliver (“Doctor Who”), Burnie Burns (Rooster Teeth), and Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”) who must work together to solve complex puzzles and riddles to escape the room before time runs out.
- “Sidekick With Matt Mira”: Mira plays the ultimate late-night talk show sidekick to a different guest host each week.
- “Vast”: Jackson Lanzing plays game master to a crew of rotating celebrity guests in an original science-fiction role-playing game.
- “Welcome to the Shadow Zone”: Detroit native Mark Trillbury — aka Onyx the Fortuitous, who became famous as “Weird Satanist Guy” — hosts a public-access-style show shot in his mom’s basement, discussing his thoughts on horror films and video games, debuting music videos from his band, and interviewing family members, neighborhood antagonists, and celebrity guests.
- “Talks Machina”: Brian W. Foster discusses the latest adventures of Vox Machina featuring cast members of “Critical Role” and offers fans prizes.
- “Watch Your Language”: Comedian-rapper Zach Sherwin (“Epic Rap Battles”) combines wordplay and hip-hop for half-hour comedy program with a mix of live and pre-taped segments.
Programming slated to debut on Alpha later in 2016 includes:
- “Choose Our Destiny: Improv Adventure” (Nov. 9): Improv show features the Tin Can Brothers, an L.A.-based sketch comedy group, with member suggestions determining which direction the show takes next.
- “Predictament” (Nov. 21): Interactive trivia show giving viewers the chance to win prizes if they pick the correct answers.
- “Public Access” (Dec. 4): Alpha members will have the opportunity to host their own shows each Sunday, whether it’s stand-up comedy, an arm-wrestling competition, or a round of a homemade board game.
- “Majority Rules” (Dec. 9): Weekly live game show in which audience members selected at random play a collection of mini-games, and will be awarded prizes if other viewers vote in their favor.