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Convention Archive

The Future of Geek: San Diego Comic Con 2014 Panel

The Future of Geek: San Diego Comic Con 2014 Panel was held Friday July 25th at the San Diego convention center in room 28DE. Below is a description of the panel and the transcription along with the audio (at the end). Enjoy!


Will comics’ takeover of pop culture continue, or has geek peaked? Industry-w atchers Heidi MacDonald (The
Beat), Rob Salkow itz (Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture), and Tim Beyers (Motley Fool) follow the
money in conventions, movies, and publishing to forecast the future of the fandom business. John Siuntres
(Word Balloon podcast) moderates


Transcription begins:

Moderator (John Siuntres): The geek market is ever changing and really we are in flux right now and that is why it is really great to have these people on this panel. To my left we have Rob Salkowitz, the author of Comic Con and The Business of Pop Culture and also columnist for ICv2 and Business Analyst. Next is Heidi McDonald, she is the creator, and Editor-In-Chief and main contributor to The Beat and also Publisher’s Weekly both online and on the podcast. And last but not least Tim Beyers of The Motley Fool, the financial analyst site. Tim analyses what the studios are doing and the publishers and does amazing analyst work of the geek market, Tim Beyers.

These are the people with the information that we are all interested in: What does make up the geek market? Where is the geek market now in 2014 and, again, in the future? And Rob has some access to some very interesting data and I’ll let Rob get into it.

Rob: Sure so three of the things that we are going to talk about in this panel involve the three legged stool of what is in culture these days: there is the Entertainment Industry, there is the Publishing Industry, and then there is this, there is this whole idea of the Fandom Conventions, the Fandom Events. And I would say that of all of these things, the emergence of Fandom Events as a huge driving force on what is going on in fandom at large was the hardest thing to predict a couple of years ago because you have this event, which is San Diego Comic Con which was the center of gravity where all of this crazy stuff was happening, but now what we are seeing is that practically every weekend of the year, we’re getting a show that is selling out that has 40 or 50 or 60 thousand people. When I started coming to San Diego Comic Con back in 1997, it had 40,000 people and it was the biggest show I had ever seen and now it is going to be, you know 40,000 might not even be the biggest show that week.

So that is really interesting and in the last 6 months I have been doing some business with EventBrite, the online ticketing platform and they do all kinds of things and they were looking at this market for fan events and looking at the numbers and they were going through the roof. Triple digit year over year (YoY) increases in the last 3-4 years, outperforming just about every events category that they measured. And in fact, last year they did a market sizing survey of a 1000 different fan events around the country and determined (this is in video games and comics and anime and specialty fandoms and things like that) and they determined that in gross tickets sales alone, this is approximately a $600MM market in North America. Just for context, the entire comics publishing industry, ICv2 just came out with market sizing data, was about $875MM for publishing all in, that’s trade, periodicals, and digital.

So the old joke that there is more people coming to comic-cons than reading comics, that is almost true on a dollar for dollar basis. And if you look at the economic impact of these cons beyond ticket sales – so every time a con finishes in, you know, WonderCon or a con in Pensacola, Florida that gets 2,000 people or you know Denver or some of these other big shows, the Chamber of Commerce does an economic assessment to figure out what is the impact of those cons and those range from $2MM or $3MM in economic impact for one day show to something like San Diego Comic Con that generates something like $200MM through this weekend for the city of San Diego.

Tim: They said $175MM this weekend.

Rob: This weekend? Ok, because I’ve seen $163MM but that was a couple of years ago. So I think the sky is the limit when it comes to San Diego. So if you take a multiple of gross ticket sales and attendance and a conservative multiple would be like 5 or 6 times, well if this is a $600MM ticket business, this is probably a $5-7B economic opportunity just in conventions. So with all of this going on, we wanted to find out whose coming to conventions, who are all of these people, where did all of these people come from. And then also to find some data, because this panel is all about data and Heidi has some really good stuff…

Heidi: Yeah we also went to, I wish we could show you but we’ll just talk about it. One of my colleagues name Bret Schenker, who actually does political demographics and he looked at the numbers. And what Rob’s talking about is the numbers growing and I’m sure that Tim will talk about that too in terms of financials but what Bret really did with his research, which is show that on Facebook millions like 24MM people were “liking” terms that had to do with comics. Now that doesn’t mean that they all bought comics but at least that they were comics aware and it is a pretty big universe. But also that the demographic makeup is changing very quickly and, I mean I am a 30-year veteran of comic-con. This is my 30th comic-con and when I came, I will be honest, there were not very many people like me and so now the statistics that we have show that it is almost 50/50. And we know that’s true because there is such a long line for the ladies room. (laughter)

This is a huge huge change in, not just cons, but how entertainment companies are thinking. I mean when I went to the DC booth yesterday, they actually had a set up for the clothes they sell at Hot Topic for female fans and they had a display for some of the women’s clothing there, which is kind of unheard of at the DC booth. I mean normally it is boy things or boy toys. So many other demographic things that are happening and I don’t really know, it’s a tidal wave, and I don’t really know where this is going…

Rob: And anybody with two eyes that has been watching this space for the last couple of years can see this happening and yet when you walk the floor – one of the reasons why we wanted to collect this data is, you know I work in marketing and there is a term called “big data” that is going around in marketing right now and people say “oh big data is creepy.” You know what’s creepier than big data? Big ignorance. There is a ton of ignorance about what is going on here because say “oh ok women are coming to cons but there just here for cosplay and they are not spending money” or “they are not fans of the same stuff we’re fans of” or “little girls don’t buy toys the same way that boys do” and stuff like that. These are myths that have circulated that undermine the obviousness of the demographics shift and it’s like the last line of defense for the old culture and that we need better data to…

Heidi: And now we have it!

Moderator: (To Heidi) You know you were saying, we were talking at the Image Expo, and you were talking about Her Universe and the opportunity that they had shown that the women’s market for geek merchandise is much bigger than any of these licensors thought.

Heidi: Oh yeah and I think it took companies like Black Milk and Her Universe to really, which are women driven companies, to get in there and show that there was a market for this. And now its like you go to the mall and everywhere and, I don’t know if it is just for comic con or whatever, but H&M has Batman tights and every single store has geek merchandise for women and I mean it’s universal.

Rob: The data proved some of the gender stuff, there were some very interesting things about the changing shape of fandom. So we tend to think as long time fans, that we’re fans of comic books. Maybe not so much fans of video games, fans of anime, or manga, or what have you. And yet when we did this fan survey and we gave people an opportunity, and here is our big info graphic, when we gave fans an opportunity to identify as “super fans” or not fans of 9 different genres ranging from horror to, so anime/manga, comics, genre based movies, horror, science fiction, specialty, tabletop gaming, video gaming. So we gave people a pretty wide range of stuff to say “I’m a super fan, I buy this stuff, I know all about it” vs. “I’m kind of into it” vs. “I’m not into it.” Our survey respondents identified as “super fans” of at least three categories. So that means all of the money that these entertainment companies are spending trying to pull audiences together across video platforms, across movies, across comics and everything like that is working. And also that these conventions are really becoming melting pots where you walk in here as fans of one thing and you leave as fans of another stuff. So that was kind of an interesting thing, here are the gender numbers: in the poll, our overall response rate was 55/45 male/female and the people who identified as “super fans” of certain genres were more heavily male, for example video games were more heavily male than comics, and then you get anime/manga just about 50/50.

Here’s an interesting one. This is age 30 and under, it was about half our sample. Exactly 50/50. That is the future of fandom right there. That chart. And the older it gets, the more skewed male it gets.

Moderator: Well we’re dying off (laughter).

Rob: And also just to quickly go over some of this stuff too. This is some of the spending data. So this is how much people spend in different channels on their fan interest through the year and as we get into this data it is actually pretty interesting. All that stuff about who spends what and do female cosplayers spend money on stuff? Hell yes. People were asked why they come to cons, the number one answer was to buy stuff that they like (70%). Next highest was to see celebrities and meet creators (53%) and that spending number, 70%, holds high across everything. Yesterday, I was down on the floor and was talking to a bunch of retailers and they’re like “oh there’s all these people here and they’re not buying stuff.” Well they’re media consumers, they’re not collectors and that’s where some of the differences are coming from and I think a lot of the exhibitor population down there is use to selling to collectors and what we are getting is people that are happy to spend money, whether online or physical locations or on the con floor. More than 100,000 doesn’t show up on the chart, there was a response there for that…

Heidi: Well just to expand on that a little bit, I think here especially with the exclusives. I was just having a conversation before I came to this panel with a retailer friend of mine and he was wondering why more publishers don’t do exclusives. I mean all of the superhero and (unintelligible) genre publishers do do exclusives but some of the smaller, more literary let’s say graphic novel publishers don’t do exclusives. You know what? They are leaving money on the table. There is no reason why they can’t cash in on this thirst for special things.

Tim: Yes and I think it is fair to say that we have entered the franchise era and the franchise era is simply that you start something, you start a movie, it becomes a video game, it becomes a comic book, a comic book becomes a TV show and on and on and on. And the reason they are doing this is that there are people who have seen this kind of data and Rob, you were talking about things like transmedia, and there is enough of a hunger for properties, franchise properties, that they can sell across these different categories. Now unfortunately there is some engineering, they are trying to engineer this a little bit and that’s where it goes wrong, but there are legitimate organic franchises that are just killing it right now.

Moderator: It also looks like that argument of online vs. mainstream as far as retailers, it’s nice to see that local businesses are represented well and really as record stores and some bookstores fade away but stores that cater to the geek culture seem to be thriving.

Rob: Yeah and the message here is that, for the exhibitors, and people that come to these cons to set up shop, the people walking the aisles are your customers. They will come to your store after the con, they will spend money at your booth and then they will go to your website and buy some more stuff. And, again, once you cut these numbers up- over 30, under 30, video gamers vs. comic collectors, that sort of thing- a lot of these spending patterns are the same. Obviously, the higher the income the more they spend but I’m going to Tim’s point that one of the big things that has been driving con culture is this convergence of media. And so one of the things that we surveyed is “who are the people that will come to the opening day weekend?” 25% of con attendees always, always come to the opening weekend of something that they’re interested in. They’ll pay extra for IMAX, for 3D so that studios that are marketing…they’re spending money to market to people to get people, and these are the people buying the expensive tickets, that are making that return on marketing investment pay off the highest. They’ll pre-order stuff, some of them will even subscribe to the specialty service like Netflix just to get the fan oriented content that is exclusive to those platforms.

Tim: They’re the brand ambassadors; this is why these guys are so important. So for every film that has sort of crossed over and become so, you know The Avengers goes from a comic book film to $1.5B worldwide. That’s starts with brand ambassadors. That starts with fans. That starts here. People who are investing early and I’ve heard publishers talk about this, and you guys have probably heard this too, where in publishing and even in toys there is this R&D (research and development) sense, we’re going to try some things and then we see some success and try to move into other media. And some of it works, when it is engineered it really doesn’t but we’re seeing it increasingly.

Just a stat on this and I think it is kind of staggering, Disney has probably done this better than most. If you look at the total dollar volume of license imprints that are just Walt Disney, it is more than $40B annually. That is more than double any body else. It is a crazy number. Now that is not what Disney makes, that’s just what they’re responsible for but consumer products, which is about a $4B a year business has the highest margins at Disney. Why is that? Because all they are doing is writing contracts. “We would like to use Spider-Man on our t-shirts” “Great, here’s the contract. Start sending us checks.” How would you like that job? Your job is to cash checks that come from people who license your images. I want that job.

Heidi: Well the top ten licensed products have always been…Disney is number one and then it varies but I mean Marvel has shot up I think they are number 3 now. United Media which does a lot of comic strip merchandising is always on there, Warner Brothers of coarse, and I think there are some clothing licensing brands that are on there but you talk about “geek dominance” and in the licensing world it has become bigger and bigger and more dominant.

Rob: Yeah and when you bridge that gap in the convention. I mean one of the other things is as these cons become mainstream events and people bring their families here and stuff like that. I remember when I was walking down the street and I saw a Green Lantern logo on a t-shirt about 2005 or something like that and I thought “wow that is pretty deeply fannish to just be walking the streets here” and now it is easier to not see them than to see them. There is so much of that stuff so all of this licensing revenue that is driving through this that these cons serve as a focal point where everybody comes and flies their colors and mainstreams this stuff into broader consumer culture. And when we talk about future geek one of the questions is can it get any bigger or has it saturated and…

Tim: Will the bubble burst?

Rob: And is it still special? And my last thing is if any body in here is an event organizer these cons are big business. So we gave people the option of how they liked their cons “The bigger the better,” “Goods cons are lots of fun but can also be stressful” and there was more to that question, “I wish they were better organized.” The majority agrees on that. And there is a growing number that says “big cons are too busy I’m sticking to smaller events” or “I’m done with cons, the thrill is gone.” So that slice of the pie is small but they need to watch it. This slice of the pie, the green slice, it says “their stressful, they need to be better organized,” this is where the war is going to be won and lost on this stuff. And that number gets higher the more frequently…so the people who go to four to five cons a year are more likely to agree with that and the people who spend more on cons are more likely to agree on that so if you want to please your best customers, tighten up on that stuff because Heidi and I have been discussing some cons disaster stories in the last couple of months.

Tim: In the last couple of years, too.

Heidi: Yeah and I mean, and as I was literally coming into this panel I ran into a convention organizer form France and he had told me about his show when I was there and, it is very well established, and he’s like “oh we had to move our dates because someone else moved in on us” and so he said the competition in France is now so steep. Because we are seeing this numbers, everyone is jumping in on this space and they think “oh it’s easy to run a con” and it turns out it is not that easy. I mean the majority here does have this sense of “my fun comes with a stress factor” thought here.

Rob: San Diego is a special case.

Heidi: Yeah but I do think people are…I mean they sell out. A lot of shows now are, New York is already sold out. Emerald City sells out in advance. Those are the three biggest ones in America. I’m not sure about Toronto, which is the FanExpo, which is actually the third biggest one in North America. I believe that show also sells out.

(Unintelligible chatter)

Rob: If you find that San Diego Comic Con is too much fun and not stressful enough…(laughter)

Heidi: Yeah but there are a lot of great shows and New York, we definitely know how to do it. You know what we have on here somewhere…

Moderator: While you are looking at that I wanted to ask Tim about Netflix and you know Hulu is getting into the, well they are in the streaming business, Amazon is doing it, PlayStation. As these separate platforms creep up and they all have exclusive content, what is the breaking point for the consumer. It’s kind of like cable in terms of you are spending $10 a month on Hulu, $10 a month on Netflix, you know, can the market sustain all these different platforms?

Tim: Well the way that this is broken out is it is broken out by what you like. You are going to go where you like, the network is completely secondary, especially now because things have become so disconnected it is very easy…the switching cost between networks are not what they were. If you had…

Moderator: When you say switching cost…

Tim: Switching cost meaning if you had Time Warner and there was a certain show that you really liked and in order to get that show you had to switch over to Comcast, that’s huge. But that’s not true anymore. You can get most of the stuff that you want via Netflix and, one of the great advantages of Netflix and what they did very intelligently and this is still true about them, they are more present on platforms worldwide than any of their competitors and it is not even close. They are on every type of gaming device; they are available on every cable network. So I think distribution has a lot to do with it. And that’s why if you are a content provider you are going to go where the distribution is and that allows Netflix to strike some deals, so there is some risk for things like Hulu, YouTube to a lesser degree but smaller distribution outlets have it a little tougher.

I think one of the seminal moments from I think it was last year, the season 4 of Walking Dead and Dish Network and AMC were embroiled in a contract fight. They fight over what is called “retransmission fees.” Retransmission fees essentially mean “it’s my stuff, if you want to retransmit it, you have to pay me.” And AMC wasn’t liking the deal that Dish wanted to give them and said “fine we’re not going to do it.” And then they (AMC) started putting it out and they put out the premiere, I think they broadcasted it live online and Dish didn’t get it and after the first episode, they said “woah, we don’t want anymore of this” and a deal got done.

Moderator: Who said that, AMC or Dish Network?

Tim: Dish Network, they yielded and they got a deal done.

Rob: So the power shifted from the distributor that was trying to choke off access to the content provider who could mobilize their audience and say “hey, give us what we want through the way that we wanted.”

Tim: Yeah it shifted selectively. It hasn’t shifted completely. It has to be the right content. But it is certainly true. I just want to mention a stat and then let you guys key off on this because there is a public company that does conventions. Anybody heard of Wizard World? So Wizard World is a public company, it’s a penny stock if anybody is really interested in this, the ticker is WIZD, and you can look this up yourself, you can look up any public company you can look up all the data you want. These are some numbers from Wizard World, this is the most recent 10-Q, which is quarterly report, so $5.2MM in overall convention revenue, that is up from $1.8MM YoY. More than triple. So operating income, $692.2MM vs. $126.1MM so up over 5x. So not only are conventions bringing in more revenue but also more of it is flowing to the bottom line, they are getting some leverage out of it. Which explains why is going to 22 shows next year, 22 shows in 2015. So yeah, this is a very big business.

Heidi: And there is a lot of push back against that because of the markets they are going into as I was saying with the French situation. You know I have a category on my blog called “Con-wars” (laughter) and I hate to say it but we are going to see a lot more Con-wars. There’s going to be a lot more competition and some people will do things that are going to be unpleasant and there will be people taking sides over it.

Tim: Let’s hope it is not a reality show.

Heidi: I hope not but that might be incredible (laughter). I am just going to throw out some raw data so people can see. These are not my statistics, I am not a statistician, so again Bret Schenker did these from graphicpolicy.com and he does Facebook research. And Facebook, you might think it was created to share photos of your niece but it was really created to be a marketing tool for advertisers so it’s very accurate and it is very sophisticated on how they view their marketing demographics which is how he went in there. And so he has been doing this for over a year and he has tracks how the terms change but it has become more accurate. We’re going to compare 2013 to 2014 so the numbers from 2013 are global statistics, in 2014 he was able to make it just US stats. So these are the 2013 stats and these are very broad demographic numbers of people on Facebook, people who like comics terms, people who like DC comics, people who like Marvel, and then people who like Indie down at the bottom. So, to me what is fascinating about this, is the gender issues because for years there has been no good updated demographic info that talks about the gender breakdown of fandom. And you can see with your own eyes when you come to shows, you see the number of women increasing, but you still see – DC comics did a survey a few years ago where it said 7% of their readers were female and I mean that just did not pass the eyeball test. So these numbers, although they are raw, but they give rough statistics that it is within this 60/40 to 50/50, the number is always between 40-50%. So it’s within five points. But the one that has really gone up is Marvel, and again this is US, but you see Marvel is 63/36 so it has significantly gone up.

Rob: I loved to see that sliced on age.

Heidi: Yeah these are some rough numbers and, I’m not sure you can do age on Facebook.

Question from the audience: Is this just based on actual likes?

Heidi: So he (Bret) has a bunch of terms and it’s not comics, he has a bunch of search terms that he has that are names of companies, characters, terms that he considers valid that refer to comics and then it is literally “likes.” So we had so much push back as soon as we introduced these numbers because, you know I am a little snarky, and these guys are a lot better at numbers than I am but I’m like “oh a sample of 24MM people I mean there’s got to be a really high variance in that.” But what these numbers are saying, is not that 24MM people buy comics; that’s not true. 24MM people don’t go to conventions, ok. What it is saying is that 24MM people are aware enough and consider themselves enough of comics-knowledgeable and think of it favorably enough to push that “like” button. They are comics-friendly. It is a market that can be approached, it is a potential buying audience, it is not an actual buying audience. I have gotten so much push back on these figures that there couldn’t possibly be this many women who like comics and nerd culture.

Rob: Are you talking about publishers?

Heidi: No, no…

Moderator: Yeah when you say push back to you mean readers?

Heidi: I just mean like readers. Like fans. Like other people whom I am probably guessing are older fans that feel somehow threatened by this idea.

Rob: That’s insane.

Heidi: It is insane. But I will tell you that some of these older fans may still be in positions of power at certain companies and so this is why numbers like Rob’s numbers, like EventBrite’s numbers, research that Bret’s doing is so important. Because this is, I feel, open the floodgates. I feel like…something happened because it changed quickly.

Rob: Well I mean the smart publishers like IDW and BOOM! and I was talking about IDW last week: on Saturdays I go into my comic store and it is full of little girls going to buy their My Little Pony. Little girls, in a comic store buying comic books from a publisher is like, in 2014 a revolutionary idea because this market has not been properly served by US publishers in like 35 years and it is not DC and Marvel that is doing it, it’s IDW and it’s BOOM! So the money is there it is just about who is going to be smart enough to get in there first.

Moderator: Isn’t part of that though because the focus for DC and Marvel and, more importantly, Warner and Disney, the TV and movies and comics really are a part of research and development and where are comics are placed in those two companies?

Heidi: Well, Tim you should answer this more in depth, but Disney bought Marvel to go to boys.

Tim: Yeah that’s right. And it’s been very successful. But what’s so crazy about the idea that TV and movies are driving boys is that, it is exactly the opposite. You know what made Captain America: The Winter Soldier such a huge hit is because it had a really great female co-lead in the Black Widow. There is a huge outcry for a Black Widow film. If you look at search data, there is a huge amount of interest in a Wonder Woman film. We can’t figure out how that isn’t getting done. And I love Rocket, I can’t wait to see the little Raccoon with the giant guns blowing people away in Guardians Of the Galaxy don’t get me wrong, but it is amazing to me that there is push back on a Wonder Woman film when you can put Rocket Raccoon and Groot on film and there is a real fan base for it. So it is not a legitimate argument. Like Heidi said, it is an observable phenomenon that there are female fans that are spending real money that are engaging with TV and movies, and I don’t have as much access to the comics data, but it is absolutely true. So the real test will be tomorrow when we get to see more of what Marvel’s movie slate is, there should be – most people who observe these companies are expecting that there will at least be Black Panther and Black Widow and, if not, I think someone needs to ask Kevin Feige why, what are you waiting for?

Heidi: You know I see we are running out of time, just want to show this and you can take a picture of it, these are the numbers.

Question from the audience is unintelligible

Moderator: So anything to say about second life and some of the ways through the interactive…

Rob: I just went to E3 last month and did the Oculus Rift demo and the Sony Morpheus demo and this stuff is for real folks. This is coming and the experience that you are going to get with this is going to be as revolutionary as the Internet itself was and if you think comic companies and the people that are doing, especially on the digital side, aren’t thinking about this and the idea that this experience, this social experience is part of what’s driving this. Guess who paid what a $1.5B…$2B for Oculus is Facebook. So creating social experiences around this content in virtual worlds – this panel is called “The Future of Geek” thank you for the question that is a future geek answer.

Moderator: This lady first then I see three more.

Question: So I’m very interested in your data about the growth of fan events and obviously we good argue that a lot of that is driven by convention attendance but I think at Comic-con especially what we’re seeing is the big studios driving attendance up so how do studios measure the ROI they get from Comic-con in light of disasters like Scott Pilgrim or Pacific Rim where there was a lot of interest here but then it didn’t really perform.

Tim: It’s a good question, I mean Scott Pilgrim is the one that is sited and what they figured out is, even though this is where you engaged there is no such thing as automatic success. You need to have a good marketing budget. And I liked Scott Pilgrim a lot but the way studios approach Comic-con and the why they invest here is because they are not just thinking about the movie, they’re thinking about the franchise and this is where franchise get built. So Lionsgate is a good example if you go downstairs…Lionsgate might have the most brilliant strategy at this con right now in terms of studio because what they are doing is, instead of trying to take over Hall H, they have exclusives. If you want to get footage for their new Mockingjay you have to go to their Samsung event so Samsung is paying Lionsgate so that they can market their film. Lionsgate is a brilliant company. But it is about the franchises so if you expand your thinking and you want to think like a studio executive how they are approaching this…this is where they put the stake in for the big franchises.

Moderator: Sir in front.

Question: You guys are talking about the expansion of other cons, I’m curious what you guys think of the expansion of this con and where is it going now with more people vs. technology what would you like to see it become?

Heidi: I would love to hear what the others have to say but I will say really quickly that this con is the first year that has plateaued for sure. There is definitely, because they are giving out wristbands, they changed a lot this year and it has tampered down. A lot of studios, and I don’t think Universal is even here. And they were the ones that famously did Scott Pilgrim and Cowboys and Aliens so.

Rob: I’d go as far to say that it not only has plateaued but it may actually be a little bit on the back slope and I want to see how the weekend plays out but this definitely feels for the first time, not just same as last year but a little off beat.

Tim: I agree and I’d say the Hall H stuff is, because it is so hard to get into Hall H and it essentially has a reputation of it is impossible to get into Hall H, I think that it is a detriment and it makes it hard to convince the studio executives to spend big money to be in Hall H.

Question: Now I’m curious what do you think, technology wise, would it be smart for them to start streaming some panels like this where it is not showing the content but showing the conversations?

Heidi: A lot of cons do that already.

Question: Do you think that will ever be something that San Diego would do because it’s huge?

Moderator: It’s always on the survey. It’s always on the survey: “Would you like that to happen?” and I keep hoping (unintelligible).

Heidi: I think in five years we are going to see a very different con.

Rob: Remember San Diego is a non-profit event so they are mission focus so you are going to see some of that at commercial cons before you see it here.

Question: Is Facebook sort of where the data capture is at or is there a move to branch out into other social media sites to try and capture that demographic information?

Heidi: I’m sure, I mean Bret is actually telling about Twitter stuff so that’s what he does for a living so just plug my site Comicsbeat.com, I’ll be putting it up there, just go under demographics on there because we do a lot of…I love this kind of stuff so.

Rob: Actually we polled for that in our EventBrite survey and it turns out that Twitter is the least used platform so it’s the least used regular platform and the least used as a casual platform and it is most like “I don’t use that at all” among all the platforms that we surveyed. The biggest things that we saw was that women blog like five times more than guys, that’s there main channel and podcast, those actually skew male.

Heidi: Yeah, men love to talk, women love to write. (laughter)

Moderator: Yes sir.

Question: Hi, two things. What do you say about Winter Soldier and how the female market drove the movie. I was under the impression that it was just a really well done film and great story. I saw it three times, I loved it.

Tim: There is no doubt that’s true.

Question (continued): And secondly, does the male dollar matter? I hear all these census on trying to get the female dollar and, no offense, but it seems like anything that is embraced by guys there is this need to bring women into it but yet something that is embraced by women I mean…you don’t see people try to get men into Twilight, not that we want to get into it.

Heidi (jokingly): You know it’s wonderful why don’t you give it a shot?

Moderator: But they’ve already got our money. I think that’s the thing, they already got our money and I think it is to show that the market can expand in areas where they have missed for decades.

Heidi: And you know just to, I know we are out of time, but just to quickly wrap things up: my whole life I’ve been told that women don’t read comics and then I well what is this in my hand and, well Heidi you’re a weirdo. So that is what it is really about to me. You know what, the male dollar is fine. Boy things: Transformers, you can have that. But I know women like it. And there are guy things and there are girl things. But a lot of things that people think are guys’ things are just people things.

Question (continued): You said something about a Black Widow movie and I’m wondering how Lucy does this weekend if Lucy is a really big hit, Black Widow will be in the basket

Tim: And just to add to what Heidi was saying. I don’t think the studios are stupid. I think they are intransigent but I don’t think they are stupid. They want to see this market continue, they want to see it grow and right now, the way I look at it, I don’t have any graphics and I didn’t bring any slides so here is my slide: the geek market is this (holds hands at short length apart) and it skewed to historical norms in the geek market (superheroes, the male icons, things like that). It could be this (holds hands far apart) but you need to be able to reach audiences and give them what they want. So what women want, more diverse characters and you have to engage it organically, and you have to give good creators who love that stuff, you have to give them a license to make it and they have to have smart studios to fund it. By no means is this market tapped but instead of looking up, instead of having vertical growth, it really is horizontal growth.

Rob: And that’s a good segue into, if you want to see this conversation continue we are going to be next door in room 25 for the Geeks Branding panel, Heidi and I are both in that.

Heidi: Thank you for coming.



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