A couple of things floating around out there that quantify the rise in comic book convention profits. Rob Salkowitz quantifies some very interesting research by Eventbrite and guesses that comic book theme events could be as much as a $3 billion business, a number that dwarfs the $600-700 million usually given for the comic book industry itself. Attendance is up about 20% every year, while some profits are up by triple digits. While all pop culture events are up, comic book events are up the most, even more than video game and other industries:
According to non-public data from fandom events Eventbrite ticketed over the past two years, ticket sales growth of fandom events on the platform significantly outpaced the growth of their festival and consumer events business overall. In fact, fandom events had the highest average gross ticket sales across all festival and consumer event categories, excluding music.
Comic cons are king. Another interesting point in the data is the disparity between popularity of certain sub-segments of fandom and the revenue generated by those events. Over half of fandom events on Eventbrite between 2011 and 2013 are categorized as gaming events, but anime and comic events drove 70% of gross ticket sales.
Within the fandom segment, comic cons blow away all other categories with average ticket sales over 2.75x the fandom event average.
This is a key statistic as far as I’m concerned. Maybe gamers would rather stay at home an play video games? Yet comic book fans want to get out spend money and participate. Comic book events are the ONLY events that have this kind of spreading influence, unless you count state fairs. Why this should be is a topic I’ve long pondered and investigated.
As if to back all this up, Wizard has made a press release of its Q1 SEC filing for the very first time, and given the good news contained with, you can see why. (You can see all filings here, including ones which weren’t as great.) Among the highlights:
• Convention revenue for period ended March 31, 2014 was $5,173,198, an increase of $3,379,722 (or 188%) from $1,793,476 reported in the comparable period in 2013. (Heidi’s note: I’m not sure how many shows WIzard threw in the 2013 so this statistic may not be apples and apples.)
• The Company increased admissions revenue by increasing the number of events and attendees. Average revenue per event in the first quarter of 2014 was $1,293,299, as compared to $896,737 during the same period in 2013.
• Operating expenses were $1,220,969 in the first quarter of 2014, as compared to $690,507 the same period in 2013, which was the result of increases in staffing and employment costs due to the increased number and size of the events.
• Income from operations was $692,202 in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 448% from $126,092 reported in the comparable period in 2013. The increase is primarily attributable to running more and larger events with similar fixed costs.
And yet….profits were down:
• The Company reported a net profit of $692,041 or income per share of $0.01 for the three months ended March 31, 2014, as compared to net profit of $1,104,176 or income per share of $0.03, in the comparable period in 2013. Income in 2014 was generated from convention revenue versus the income in 2013 was non-cash generated from a gain on the valuation of derivative liabilities. By year end of 2013 the Company successfully extinguished all derivative instruments.
Here’s some SEC charts where you can see the numbers directly:
Whether you love or loathe Wizard shows, this is a good example os sticking with a core business, investing in it and, one expects at some point profiting from it. Wizard went public some years ago as a “penny stock” and money is made on these penny stocks through small rises and falls. I don’t know enough about the stock market to know if this is a business some people may start looking at, but the numbers seem to be going in the right direction.
In all of this con boom, there is, as mentioned many times before, ONE CITY that just DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT COMIC CONS, and that is San Francisco, which exiled WonderCon to Anaheim and has no interest in giving the show a secure date at the Moscone Center. Local Peter Hartlaub writes for SF GAte about why the show should come back and wonders why it got the cold shoulder
WonderCon was making money, the city was making money, people were having fun and it gave locals something positive and social to do on a weekend. So why again is it no longer here?
I’ve asked a lot of people close to the convention scene this question, and this is what I’ve come up with:
WonderCon is not a low-maintenance outfit. It needs extra time set up and tear down, doesn’t have a lot of date flexibility and brings a huge crowd. (Regular attendees know that fire marshal intervention was an occasional reality.) It may not be the greatest convention if you operate a five-star hotel or Michelin starred restaurant, or you’re a City Hall lobbyist who represents those types of interests. Whether it’s true or not, the perception is that the heavy geek demographic spends a majority of its disposable income inside the walls of WonderCon.
So yeah, those artisan toast scarfing, Google-bus loving, affordable housing hating, old people out of their homes kicking silicon valley dillweeds are the LAST people in the world who still think that a comic con does not bring any money to the community. They are ANTI CONSUMER in so may ways. Maybe they need to meet Rob Salkowitz. Without nerds, tech would be nothing, you fools.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.