Wizard World is launching its own streaming video channel in China named The Wizard Channel. In a partnership with CNLive, The Wizard Channel will be a free English language "24/7 advertising supported channel" available in the entirety of mainland China, including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao. Programming for the channel is scheduled to include the recently-announced WizPop, other in-house content, as well as independently produced programming and licensed content from "the world's leading studios and producers."
“This partnership with CNLive is a landmark achievement for Wizard World as we extend our brand into content production and distribution both domestically and across international borders,” said John D. Maatta, Wizard World President/CEO. “As we continue to produce entertaining, engaging and valuable content in the pop culture space, this agreement will allow many millions of additional fans to engage with our brand, unlocking the large, growing market of China, a region which has shown a strong affinity for such programming. It is our intention with the launch of WizPop, our daily pop culture news service, and the re-imagination of Wizard Magazine to continue forward as the definitive voice of international pop culture focused on the worlds of motion pictures, television, music, comics and gaming. All of this is in addition to our growing live event pop culture exposition business which will produce 22 shows in North America in 2017. We have created a pop culture ecosystem where fans of our hugely-popular live event business can receive Wizard content all day everyday, We are striving to serve our fan base at live events and across numerous media platforms."
The People's Republic of China has a strict governance of streaming content in its country, with CNLive being one of only several companies able to legally do so. The Wizard Channel will be CNLive's first English language channel
Less than 1% of the Chinese population speaks English, and no mention has been made by Wizard World about a version of the channel in local languages - nevertheless, Wizard estimates that the channel could "aggregate an audience of up to six million viewers a day."
“The transaction with CNLive is another step forward in the evolution of Wizard World from a producer of premier pop culture events into a full-bodied integrated global media company, representing the whole of many synergistic parts," said Wizard World's Executive Chairman, Paul Kessler. "We are working aggressively to identify and initiate new business opportunities for Wizard World designed to generate additional and accretive revenue streams while focused on enhancing shareholder value.”
The deal was negotiated by Hong Kong-based Vincent Yeng of YMK, who will continue to be a liaison for the various groups in partnership.
No money is changing hands in this five-year deal between Wizard World and CNLive - the Wizard Channel will be provided for CNLive to distribute at no cost, with Wizard planning to sell the advertising. All ad revenue will be split 40/40/20 to Wizard World, CNLive, and YMK respectively.