Continuing the trend of live fan events going virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic, New York Comic Con’s producer ReedPop announced on Tuesday that the annual fan convention is canceling its in-person event and partnering with YouTube to stream live panels from Oct. 8 to Oct. 11.
NYCC was originally scheduled to take place at Javits Center, but will now be hosted primarily on New York Comic Con‘s YouTube channel. Attendees will no longer be able to engage in panels face-to-face, but the YouTube Live Chat and Community features will help emulate the Comic Con experience and allow for audience-based Q&As.
“We are thoroughly disappointed that we can’t gather together, in-person for the New York Comic Con we love to build and our fans love to revel in,” ReedPop president Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “We look forward to this weekend all year long, just like you, and with this being our 15th edition, we were particularly excited. I will miss walking up and down artist alley and seeing friends that I’ve made since we were in the basement at the Javits Center. While this year will definitely be a different experience, we are going to look to bring the best and most engaging event to our fans, exhibitors, and studios through our partnership with YouTube.”
Many of streaming and television’s biggest brands, including Hulu, Starz, FX, DreamWorks Animation and CBS All Access are still set to offer panels for fan favorites, like shows in the “Star Trek” franchise and “American Gods.” Other scheduled programming offered to those in attendance will be similar to the event’s typical in-person experience: fan contests, premieres and special announcements.
ReedPop also announced that fans can still virtually engage in meet and greets, workshops and videos. Personal autographs and a virtual marketplace will be available online as well.
The convention’s move to an online-only format comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to rise. New York was initially a hot-spot for the virus, reporting thousands of new cases daily, but it has consistently reported fewer than 1,000 new cases per day for over a month.
San Diego Comic-Con also transitioned to a virtual event in July, rebranded as Comic-Con@Home. Despite the convention’s usually high turnout, the online panels generated more than 90% less Twitter buzz compared to its 2019 counterpart.
But, unlike New York Comic Con, Comic-Con@Home panels were pre-recorded. There were no live chat features for Q&As, and comments were disabled. The October convention will offer more community-centered and engagement-based experience for fans to more closely represent the yearly event.
More information will be available closer to the event’s opening date.