When COVID-19 turned all of our lives upside down last year, there were a lot of things we needed to change and adapt to get by. While conventions and events aren't massively important, they are fun, and it is good for the entertainment business when it comes to marketing. And let's face it, we all needed something else to focus on in 2020, and thus the virtual event was born. At the end of 2020, we wrote a two-part essay about how the virtual event came to be, who failed, who succeeded, and whether or not any of this was going to matter in 2021. It very much did matter, and now we're almost ten months into 2021, and there are still plenty of legitimate reasons not to hold a massive convention. After two successful events last year, DC FanDome and the virtual Disney Investor Day, it was going to be interesting to see who took the things that worked from those two events and applied them to 2021. Comic-Con took no pointers, and their online event came and went without anyone noticing.
Netflix, it appears, was very much taking notes perhaps even copied DC FanDome's homework. Yesterday, the streaming service hosted their TUDUM: A Netflix Global Event and actually the third virtual event that Netflix has hosted this year. As one of the first streaming services, it was kind of surprising that Netflix didn't take advantage of the virtual event last year and instead went to things like Comic-Con @ Home. It seems they decided they could do it themselves this year and even decided to do it more than once. Back in June, Netflix hosted their Geeked Week, which had a very similar setup to DC FanDome with a combination of hosts on virtual stages, zoom interviews, and little things like trivia to break up the various announcements. However, that was very focused on the nerd side of Netflix, and there is a lot of other things going on on the service. Then there was WitcherCon which Netflix was very much a part of at the beginning of July. There were a few more people sitting in real life, but the stream, for the most part, was still set up the same way.
TUDUM, however, very much leaned into the fact that Netflix is a global company, and different countries are putting out various pieces of media. Much in the same way that DC FanDome had different announcers from all over the world on their virtual stage, Netflix did something similar with different talent from shows all over the world introducing new information and clips. It made the event feel much more like an event and something that you could only see in a virtual space. They broke up the various panels by focusing on social media reactions to Netflix shows or TikTok challenges and leaning into the fan aspect much like FanDome did with cosplay spotlights and fan questions between major panels. While Netflix hasn't released any numbers yet, the tight three-hour event seemed to dominate social media and headlines yesterday and is still going into today. There was something for everyone at these panels, no matter what kind of content you go to Netflix for.
Once again, we ask ourselves what this will mean for the near future of conventions. If this event did well for Netflix, and there is a chance that it might, does that mean Netflix needs to go to something like San Diego Comic-Con or New York Comic Con to promote their shows? It's too early to tell, but the overall positive reception to those watching TUDUM will be something that Netflix will take into account going forward. Perhaps there is a happy medium where they bring only the biggest shows to conventions but still host a digital event to make sure smaller things on the service get the spotlight. There were plenty of movies and TV shows people might not have heard of that got exposed to a massive audience during TUDUM. DC FanDome is returning for its second incarnation on October 16th, and if that event goes as well as the first one? Let's just say it wouldn't be that surprising if DC moved their smaller projects to digital-only while only bringing out the big guns for in-person events.
As for Netflix and the future of events like TUDUM? Maybe next time, they can come up with a name that doesn't require an entire opening skit to explain what the hell it means.