UPDATE: The PR team at CCI have responded to our inquiries and have provided the following statement.
We welcome over 130,000 participants to our show.
This is calculating badges redeemed. Each badge is assigned a
name and no blocks of badges are given out to, say, exhibitors or
others. Once the show ends, we audit to see how many badges were
Several years ago we stopped issuing press releases about how many
attendees we welcomed because we believe the number of people
attending the event isn’t nearly as important as the experience the
Note: This article is an opinion piece and does not reflect When Nerds Attack as a whole. Also, this is long as hell.
The other day we had posted an article quoting ReedPOP that their New york Comic-Con has surpassed Comic-Con International’s attendee record of 130,000 by about 21,000 to become the largest pop culture con in North America.
That’s such an astounding number. I was in attendance at NYCC this past weekend and when I saw this number I could not believe it. I mean that sentence literally. I’ve been to both NYCC and SDCC and one clearly did not feel like the other, let alone 21,000 more people than the other as some coverage would have you beleive.
I started digging around to see if maybe this is all a PR gimmick. Now, no disrespect to NYCC or ReedPOP. I love their shows. I think they are well put together, they bring events of this size to areas that didn’t have them before, and the whole thing with the coded badges is absolutely brilliant.
But the figure of 151,000 attendees is for all intents and purposes smoke and mirrors. That is the number of TOTAL badges sold, not people in the building at once. If they were there at once we would have certainly had an issue with 21,000 more people than San Diego occupying a space that is 800,000 square feet smaller.
While I cannot find an exact number of maximum occupancy for the Javits Center (rough estimates suggest 85,000 people), the San Diego Convention Center’s lack of expansion has plenty of casual observers and interested fans painfully aware of the 130,000 people maximum occupancy. But that’s per day, not over most of the week. I will circle back to this.
It’s no secret that ReedPOP is a for profit company. It is a spectacular hustle they have going more power to them. While purchasing my badges for NYCC during Special Edition I made note of the ticket prices; a four-day badge for an adult is $95, a three-day one is $65, and they had individual day passes ranging from $35 to $50.
When those four and three-day badges quickly sold out that left the single day passes, and if you wanted to go for all four days that would set you back $175 (184% the cost of the one four-day pass). Considering that SDCC in 2014 cost $165 if you wanted to go for four days ($200 if you wanted Preview Night) that’s not bad.
It looks even better when you consider that CCI got rid of their bulk four-day pass option in favor of having people frantically clicking each day when the mad dash for badges goes up.
I applaud ReedPOP for this. They hook up those who are fast enough with four days passes at, lets face it, a bargain price, while also boosting the prices for single passes when compared day-for-day by almost double to increase their bottom line.
So that lead me to wonder just how many passes NYCC set aside for four-day passes compared to how many they were allowed to sell for any specific day. Since the 151,000 is for unique visitors would someone with four individual day passes count as one visitor or would they count as four?
If they can only hold about 85,000 people on any given day (and the NY Fire Marshall does NOT f- around) it is clear that not everyone is going to be going in every day.
While the CCI folks tend to not be too forthcoming with information regarding sales, it is safe to assume that their daily occupancy limit of 125,000 people is not the total amount of meat coming through their doors during the entire weekend.
Anyone who has tried to get tickets to SDCC knows of someone who only got a single ticket for Sunday or Thursday. It is just one step above being shut out of the con altogether but they take it just to go where they love. Estimates put SDCC’s population draw at 200,000 but it is unknown at this time if that number is ONLY unique badge sales or if it also includes people who come into town to also enjoy the nightlife and off-sites events.
Since it is well-known that not everyone can get in every day and the con sells out in record time year after year it is safe to assume that the unique visitor badge sales of SDCC blows NYCC out of the water.
Now this is just pure speculation on my behalf but this is where I started to think that maybe this figure is just a PR tactic to draw the spotlight off of SDCC a little by comparing their total attendance figure to SDCC maximum daily attendance number with some clever wordplay. But why do this?
Everyone knows SDCC is a media circus. News outlets from all over the world come to cover the announcements, the parties, and the celebs that come to town. NYCC gets some press but I don’t see even half as much coverage as I see in San Diego. If I were in competition with someone and was considered a distant number two-year after year I might want to try to boost my profile as well, especially if I was in it to make serious money and my competitor was a non-profit.
A higher profile means more attention which could lead to more presence from the studios which bring even more attention and demand and attention for your company, especially when you’re branching out your brand to new countries and territories. You want the people over there to see what you have over here and hope that they’ll be in store for some of that as well.
Either way, putting a release out there saying that they are now number one has certainly had people talking, that’s for sure.
If you are reading this, thank you for fighting to stay awake through to the end and please flip to side two.