With streaming services so big for every medium on the planet such as Movies, Music and Gaming it has to beg the question why we don’t have a service yet that offer the same function for comic books. Is this something that would work or is this just a pipe dream of a comic book loving nerd? Well lets take a look at how this could function and why it might not
Comic books aren’t what they used to be anymore, at one time they were the most exciting moment of each week for nerds everywhere but for no-one else- however in the year 2015 with the huge explosion of comic book characters onto television and movies the medium has become much more socially accepted and recognised. However despite their being a huge upswing in the number of people who recognise comic books as a worthwhile medium and appreciate the creativity of the craft, sales of cooks hasn’t seen that big an improvement- Marvel only recently had their first 1million copies selling title in a long time. So what has caused this huge swing in comic book acceptance but not in physical sales, well the huge digital comic market is clearly having an impact.
Digital comics are becoming more and more accessible and easy for people to get hold off without the need to find a reliable and price effective retailer (@OKComics in Leeds everybody) and the fact that they are available on all platforms through a multitude of applications only helps the cause. Comixology launched in 2007 and since that time has had a total of just over 200Million total downloads of books in that time, which is a huge number of issues and collected trades, especially when you consider there not the only source for issues as Marvel have their own dedicated application so do Darkhorse, DC comics and then there’s the App store and Google Play to name just a few. So with the rise of digital comics being so huge why havent we yet seen a streaming subscription service for the comic book afficenado’s yet?
In 2009 Marvel launched ‘Marvel Unlimited’ to the masses which is the closest we have got to anything even resembling a streaming service for comic books, as for a monthly/yearly fee you get access to all the Marvel comics (aslong as their 6months old) that your heart can endure. This is a service that truly offers you access to a huge amount of content, and for a Marvel comics book fan is much easier than trying to buy all your favourite Tradepaper backs and collected hardcovers, as they can easily be taken with you anywhere and everywhere without the need for huge amounts of space. This service has proven to be popular, and Marvel has continued to promote and grow the service since its arrival only further enforcing its success.
However with Marvel having to offer comic books at a 6month delay to not harm the retailers of the physical copies, it seems at this time like a true weekly release streaming service is something that just couldn’t happen; but are there other issues? Lets look at Netflix as an example to see what the differences would be- as this is easily the biggest Television and movie streaming service on offer, but even this has its draw backs. Netflix has to buy the rights to offer its services and shows and only has a certain amount of storage so needs to remove its shows and movies each month to be able to offer new content, add to this the fact that other streaming services have exclusives that Netflix can’t access and we have a clear issue that could arise with comic book streaming.
If we ever did see a dedicated streaming service for comic books (I would personally love this) these are similar issues that would obviously occur as Comixology already have exclusive items, as does Marvel so could one service really bring all of this together? Could one service even offer us access to all the material we would want, or would it need to be rotated around to save server space? If this was the case it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, as this would allow for readers to access new content every month that may be classics they missed first time around- however the removal of comic book classics like Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns could be a bigger problem but how would you agree with each publisher what gets added and what gets to be removed? Scribd has tried this by adding over 10,000 digital comics to its monthly service however there has been an issue with getting DC comics to agree and as a result there is no DC participation in this service, and this would really kill a dedicated comic book streaming service.
Overall the idea of this fills me with excitement, but there may just be too many loop holes to jump through to get this sorted and too many books to even contemplate making available but if all the publishers were to get on board (their physical sales are declining so why not try something new) this could truly be a real change to the way everyone reads and accesses their comics- and post the digital comic book age this has to be the next logical step.