New York Comic Con (NYCC) and MCM Comic Con are renowned cultural icons across the United States and London. Both are brought to life by the global live events powerhouse ReedPop and draw hundreds of thousands of excited fans to each of their events. With a dedicated fanbase accustomed to interactive conventions, ReedPop was challenged to recreate those engaging experiences for 2020, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic. They couldn’t welcome fans in person, so they decided to enter the digital realm and create an online convention of epic proportions, filled with a series of free and paid live streams, personalized celebrity experiences, a virtual exhibitor hall and artist alley, and so much more. And thus, Metaverse was born.
To build the ultimate online convention experience, the newly created Metaverse needed a virtual events solution that could help them create excitement and a sense of community similar to their in-person conventions. Patron Technology, ReedPop's long-time event technology partner, was more than up for the challenge. With live streaming, celebrity meet & greets, and built-in community engagement features, Patron Technology’s virtually limitless technology solution provided Metaverse with a full suite of online tools that brought together fans from around the world and gave them a legendary online experience.
Views across all free and paid live streams
Countries with participating attendees
Visibility into live stream attendance
ReedPop had a unique opportunity to create an international virtual comic con, and Patron Technology was there to help build a highly-engaging online experience using both new, virtually-focused features and existing features ReedPop had relied on for their in-person events. “The Patron Technology team understands our events as well as we do,” said Mike Armstrong, Vice President of ReedPop. “So when we decided we wanted to pivot into a fully virtual event for 2020, we knew they’d be an invaluable asset in translating the best aspects of our conventions online.” Metaverse worked with Patron Technology’s event experts to determine what their event offering would be and how it would all work online. Metaverse’s top priority was monetizing their virtual offering and having full control over who attended their virtual convention, and Patron Technology had the perfect solution. To securely gate online access to live streams and meet & greets, the event pages ReedPop and their customers were already accustomed to were transformed to sell access to the virtual experiences alongside physical merchandise. The purchased access then gave customers a unique access code they used to enter the experiences.
In addition to new virtual convention components, Metaverse wanted to encapsulate the feel of an in-person event, and no convention would be complete without a full roster of panels, exclusive merchandise, an exhibitor hall, or an artist alley. Metaverse used Patron Technology’s Schedule Manager to highlight all upcoming panels, workshops, and Q&A sessions in a single location and easily add all pertinent information for each. This intuitive schedule enabled fans to sort by date and genre, so they could view what’s most relevant to them and plan their weekend in advance. Patron Technology’s Exhibit Space Manager also enabled Metaverse to create a centralized hub that fans viewed to get more information, purchase event exclusives, and visit over 350 artists and exhibitors. The virtual solution allowed exhibitors to showcase more of their offering in a premium location right on Metaverse’s website, so they could increase their brand awareness and connect with fans on their time. “Our artists and exhibitors have always been a core part of our convention, so it was essential that we could incorporate them into our virtual event,” Armstrong said. “The Exhibit Space Manager was the perfect solution.”
Metaverse needed plenty of content to engage fans across time zones, so they hosted over 200 free live streams across two “virtual stages” on YouTube. Hosting free streams was a great way for Metaverse to connect their global community and immerse them in the virtual convention experience, but they could only do so much without a dedicated streaming solution. “We wanted to take it a step further and offer premium live streams so fans could have an even more interactive experience,” Armstrong said. With Patron Technology’s complete virtual events solution, hosting secure premium streams meant first putting fans in an interactive waiting room after they entered their unique access code. There, they chatted with other members of the fandom community, watched videos of upcoming special guests or sponsors, and viewed a countdown timer. The premium streams also gave Metaverse 100% visibility into attendance. For instance, they knew that fans from 39 different countries gathered online to share in the epic experience together.
Once the live streams began, Patron Technology’s solution gave Metaverse complete control over every aspect of their streams and enlisted a full team of experts to assist them. The producers and moderators could monitor the chat, change screens, communicate with internal team members, track real-time metrics, and seamlessly switch between live and pre-recorded content to present dynamic content. For example, with real-time chat, fans stepped into the driver’s seat to ask their burning questions, and session moderators relayed those questions to the presenters, who answered them during the stream. “During every panel or workshop, we have a limited amount of time to create an engaging, memorable experience for fans,” Armstrong said. “But thanks to Patron Technology’s live chat functionality, we could turn every stream into an interactive Q&A experience guided by our community.”
Even after the live streams ended, the experience wasn’t over. Fans could watch the free live streams on YouTube at any time, and customers who bought access to the Metaverse’s paid streams were able to view a recording of it up to seven days after it went live. This gave fans a chance to relive the experience all over again, or ensure that those who bought access before the stream but weren’t able to join live could enjoy it on their own time. After the convention was over, Metaverse’s free and paid live streams received over 1 million views.
The heart of any convention is the chance for fans to meet their heroes, so Metaverse offered personalized one-on-one meet & greets online, which gave customers a brand new opportunity to have full-on conversations with their idols. Before their meet & greet session started, fans had a quick tech check to confirm their camera and microphone settings and entered an interactive waiting room. There, they watched pre-recorded videos, chatted with other fans, answered a question to help guide their upcoming conversation, and viewed their queue position. Using Patron Technology’s advanced moderation features, the Metaverse team and participating celebrities also had full control over every session. They could control the duration of each meet & greet, view how many fans were in the lobby, and talk in a private host chat. Then, once the meet & greet was over, every attendee received a recording as a one-of-a-kind keepsake. “Patron Technology’s virtual celebrity meet & greets is the best in the business,” said Armstrong. “The interactive waiting rooms, moderation features, and internal communication tools all contributed to a flawless experience for both our team and our fans. We’re excited to incorporate it into our future events.”
Patron Technology also developed an option for fans to purchase a personalized video from the celebrity of their choice, which added a new level of flexibility to traditional celebrity experiences. “It doesn’t matter if the celebrity and fan were in totally opposite time zones; fans could have a new experience with their favorite celebrity that may not have been available to them before,” Armstrong said. When purchasing on the usual event pages, fans simply noted any questions they had or topics they were interested in. The celebrity then responded on their own time, and within a week the fan received their completed video to share with friends, family, and on social media! Some celebrities offered a VIP package complete with a personalized video and an autograph, so interested fans could receive a physical souvenir of their experience as well. This package combined unique features of in-person and virtual events, setting Metaverse apart from other conventions and opening the door for a deeper hybrid experience in the future.
As they made their entrance into the online convention world, ReedPop relied on Patron Technology’s tools and expertise to create the ultimate virtually limitless event. Using secure access codes, ReedPop gated live stream access and ensured that only those who bought access could enter, while receiving 100% visibility into stream attendance. Patron Technology’s complete live streaming solution and moderation tools gave ReedPop full control over their streams and connected fans across 39 different countries, receiving a combined total of over 1 million views for their free and paid live streams. Their virtual celebrity meet & greets gave fans a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet their heroes in a one-on-one setting. And their personalized videos option, which gave fans across time zones the unique chance to receive a customized message from their idols, revolutionized what it meant to connect with each other. “We’re excited to continue to grow with Patron Technology for our live and virtual events, and we’re looking forward to what’s next.”