Nerdist, Geek & Sundry to Offer Subscription Service Alpha

Hardwick: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic. Day: Steve Granitz/WireImage.
Nerdist's Chris Hardwick and Geek & Sundry's Felicia Day

The joint venture from the Legendary Digital Networks brands will feature exclusive videos, access to VIP events and more.

Legendary Digital Networks is combining two of its online brands into a new subscription video service that will serve up interactive content for pop culture fans.

Alpha, which will debut later this year, will stream exclusive content from Chris Hardwick's Nerdist and Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry, as well as offer new ways to interact with the videos through live chatting, polling and other features. Alpha will also offer its members VIP access to events, discounts on products and other perks. A price point has not yet been announced. 

Hardwick said the service would be "a safe place for fandom and the people who are passionate about it," with Day adding that she was "thrilled to have Geek and Sundry unified with Nerdist under this innovative new platform that provides an environment for fans to celebrate the things they love in a way not seen before." 

Hardwick started Nerdist as a podcast in 2010, expanding the brand in 2012 to include a website that covered everything from movies to video games to science and technology. Later that year Legendary Entertainment acquired Nerdist and wrapped it into its digital division. The similarly themed Geek & Sundry, founded as a YouTube channel by actress Felicia Day in 2012, was acquired by Legendary in 2014.

The similarities between the two websites make them logical partners for Alpha, which will feature live programming with celebrity guests, game shows and scripted fare. 

"Alpha is going to bring our community closer together through offering new types of immersive and interactive content and, when we realized that no existing services offered the technological capabilities needed, we decided to build it ourselves," said Legendary Digital president Adam Rymer. "Our hope is to create a unique, shared community experience and keep pushing the envelope forward with respect to what can be created on digital platforms." 

The Nerdist website had 4.7 million unique visitors in April, up 50 percent over the same period last year, according to comScore. Geek & Sundry's website had 290,000 uniques in April, per comScore. On YouTube, where it got its start, it has 1.4 million subscribers. 

The service will face a competitive landscape when it launches. A number of digital companies have introduced subscription video platforms in the last year, including YouTube, Fullscreen and Defy Media pop culture brand Screen Junkies. The question becomes how many of these separate services customers will pay for on top of subscriptions to broader services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

For Alpha, that's where the added perks might come in handy. "I'm seeing a lot of companies putting genre-style content behind paywalls and I'm not sure that offering alone is entirely exciting or compelling for the audience, especially when this type of programming is freely available all over the internet," Hardwick said. "While scripted and interactive video will be just one component of Alpha, we are setting out to make this more of a holistic membership experience that will feel like a community clubhouse." 

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