Legendary Digital Networks (LDN) is launching “Alpha,” a new subscription video network with content from Nerdist and Geek & Sundry, the company announced.  As part of this new launch, key gaming show TableTop, starring Wil Wheaton, will go to a windowed release, becoming available first behind the pay wall and going to free release later. 

The new Alpha channel will be available at a $4.99 monthly subscription cost, and will carry new unscripted programming created by Nerdist and Geek & Sundry, give early access to some (eventually) free programming like TableTop, and offer enhanced versions of other existing programs, such as Critical Role

Season 4 of TableTop (see “’TableTop’ Season 4 Games Announced”) will premiere on Alpha on November 2, and be available free on YouTube “early next year.”  The first two episodes of Season 4 will also be available on YouTube simultaneously with their release on Alpha. 

Interactive elements will be emphasized on Alpha, including chat, polls, quizzes, call-ins, and giveaways.  Alpha is also promising exclusive products to its geek audience in the future. 

Legendary Digital Networks was formed by Legendary Entertainment in 2014, after genre-specializing Hollywood production company Legendary Entertainment acquired Geek and Sundry (TableTop is a Geek & Sundry show), joining it with Nerdist, which it acquired in 2012 (see “Legendary Acquires Nerdist Industries”).

How will this impact sales of games featured on TableTop?  There’s been a well-documented sales bump for games played on the show, which was 79% in the first year (see “The ‘TableTop’ Bump”), and although the impact may have declined with subsequent seasons, it’s still substantial.  The new windowed release will spread out the period over which the show is seen, with subscribers seeing it first, and free-watchers seeing it several months later.  That will undoubtedly spread out the sales impact as well, which may end up being positive for retailers, who can gauge the early response and plan inventory for the wide release accordingly.  

Whether the audience remains the same size overall, grows, or shrinks is probably a bigger issue, and the answer to that remains to be seen.  At least this new initiative may provide another long-term funding source for programming; TableTop had to go to Kickstarter to fund its RPG series (see "'TableTop' to Launch RPG Show"), but if the subscription service works, there's another way that the content can be monetized.