Attend Dragon Con Virtually With a Streaming Membership

Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno, Courtesy Dragon Con Photography (c) 2017 Dragon Con, Inc

For those who haven’t been to Dragon Con in the last 15 years or so, DragonConTV is the much-beloved convention TV station. It started as a way to entertain attendees between panels with fan-created videos and has grown into a source of convention coverage, including interviews, live streams of panels, and recordings of other panels.

Last year, DCTV added an HD streaming subscription for attendees to enjoy DCTV during the event and for three months afterward. This year the streaming subscription is available to anyone, regardless of whether you have a Dragon Con membership.

Streaming Memberships are available to 2017 Dragon Con members for a discounted rate of $10. You can purchase it at the on-site Dragon Con Store. Those who aren’t attending Dragon Con 2017 can purchase streaming memberships for $30 online. (You might also be interested in checking out the Dragon Con VR Experience.) For questions about the Streaming Membership, check out the Dragon Con TV FAQ.

Each year, we talk to Brian Richardson, DCTV co-founder and director of videography, about what’s new with DCTV and bring you a sneak peek of a new video. Here’s what he has to tell us about 2017:

What did we learn from the inaugural streaming in 2016?

Lots! Mainly, we learned a lot of people didn’t understand what you could do with the streaming membership after the con. During Dragon Con, the streaming membership is access to the same content we run on DragonConTV in the host hotels. After con we upload another 40-60 hours of recorded content, so becomes a “DVR” for what you missed at con (or what you want to see again). We’ve spent some time promoting this feature on social media and in the dragoncon.tv FAQ.

Fans told us they want to see more panel replays, which is even more important as we expand main programming into a new ballroom (Hilton Salon). So we added a few more slots for pre-recorded panels to the DragonConTV broadcast schedule. We’ll keep this updated throughout the show in case … ha, who I am kidding … when the schedule changes.

We also learned that the experience watching the stream is very different from being at con. So we’ve linked the DragonConTV Twitter feed to the site and are making small programming adjustments to better connect “virtual” members to the convention. Dragon Con Update (2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Fri.-Sun. of the con) is specifically designed to showcase corners of the convention you won’t see by sticking to main programming. Tommy Byrd, the brainchild behind the site, also added new search features and a support ticket system.

How did things have to change this year to make it possible for anyone to get the stream?

Aside from the search features and programming tweaks, not much. We added a payment processing system for the $30 “virtual” membership and did a lot of browser cross-compatibility testing (Microsoft Edge is … interesting). Last year served as a great trial run for moving DragonConTV further into the interwebs.

How do you decide what panels make it onto the stream?

This is one of the hardest things I have to do every year. It’s like The Hunger Games, except nobody dies and I’m usually having a snack in an air conditioned coffee shop (mmm, iced coconut milk latte). We have two main programming ballrooms that can broadcast live, and four with content we record for playback, so it’s difficult getting all of that into a coherent schedule. I work like a Grey Jedi to keep a proper balance between various fandoms. Unfortunately, some panels can’t be streamed due to contract restrictions, but we work hard to make sure fans can see epic programming without standing in epic lines.

Any new rooms on the list this year?

The Atlanta Hilton just added a beautiful new ballroom (Salon, 2nd floor) that seats about 1,800 fans. There’s a lot of great programming here that we will record for replay. Right now we can’t broadcast live from this location, but it’s being considered for 2018.

Finally, watch Richardson and Science track director Stephen Granade star in one of this year’s new videos, “Homeopathic Beer.” Richardson says, “We put the science back in science fiction with this look at an alternative beer ad … or is it an ad for an alternative to beer?”

For more DCTV, visit dragoncon.tv and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and — new this year — Instagram. If you’re attending, you can also plan your Dragon Con schedule with the help of the DragonConTV broadcast schedule.

By day, Ruth works to make open source software communities better. The rest of the time, she makes things, which means her husband and kids know to watch out for stray sewing pins and to ask before eating anything made of fondant.