Comic-Con@Home Turned Out To Be A Massive Failure
The virtual halls of San Diego Comic Con were mostly empty during this year's experimental Comic-Con@Home online-only convention, which allowed fans to view the panels and events from remotely and totally free of charge. But that still wasn’t enough to draw attendees to the five-day virtual event, at least not if the numbers are to be believed.
The online convention promised fans more than 350 panels - including high profile events showcasing The Walking Dead, Star Trek Discovery, and high-profile actors like Keanu Reeves. There were alsovirtual artists and vendors alleys, exclusive merch, various contests, competitions and more. But even with so many pop culture fans starving for content over the last few months, Comic-Com@Home wasn't enough to scratch that itch, considering the social media engagement numbers from this year's undertaking compared to last year's in-person event were staggeringly low.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
According to a report from Variety, based off of numbers from ListenFirst, a social media analytics firm, tweets mentioning Comic-Con@Home fell a mind-boggling 95% from last year's in-person counterpart. Tweets mentioning the most high profile TV shows were down 93%, and most shockingly of all, the firm determined that mentions of the event's top five movies were down 99% from last year's top five. The numbers from YouTube, where many of the panels were hosted, reinforce the drop in "attendance." Somewhat surprisingly, the most popular panel, both in terms of viewership and social media mentions was for The New Mutants, which was announced in back 2017 and has been in limbo ever since, suffering one delay after another. The film's panel set a tentative release date for August 28, though even the filmmakers seem dubious of hitting that.
Beyond needing to scramble to get the event online amid coronavirus concerns, Comic-Con organizers had a whole other set of hurdles to overcome in putting this all together, with major players like Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and DC Films announcing ahead of time they'd be skipping the virtual event. But beyond that, the Comic-Con experience thrives on fan interaction - not just between one another, but also with the stars and creators they come to see and oftentimes fawn over. With most of the panels being pre-recorded, viewers couldn't even pose questions to the creatives in attendance via live chat. An at-home experience was never going to be the same, but just how much of a difference the shift made is astonishing.
This experiment may serve as a good litmus test as to how the organizers of New York Comic-Con - which is presently still scheduled for October 8-11 - should handle their proceedings if they're similarly forced to cancel the in-person event. Will it even be worth it to try to replicate SDCC's massively underwhelming virtual undertaking? Will they learn lessons from their predecessor and hopefully make improvements? Only time will tell at this point, but with NYCC set to begin in just over two months, that time is quickly running out.
There's speculation that SDCC may not even be able to return in 2021, which means if organizers are going to take a second swing at Comic-Con-@Home, they're going to have to make some major changes to keep fans engaged or even turn a profit.