Rob Salkowitz, author of "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture," noted in a NYCC panel over the weekend that convention popularity and success is "being driven by the changes in the audience itself. Because fandom conventions are no longer just serving this hardcore geek demographic."
Social media and a new generation of pop culture enthusiasts have altered the stereotypical comic cons of years past, turning the event into an experience rather than just a convention. People have a fundamental fear of missing out, said Heidi MacDonald, editor-in-chief of The Beat, during an NYCC panel.
Eventbrite estimated that fandom conventions grossed more than $600 million in ticket sales in 2013 and have continued to increase.
While the companies that sponsor these events are benefiting from the increase in revenue, so are the hosting cities. Salkowitz, who partnered with Eventbrite, determined that the average economic impact of a comic convention on its host city is eight times the ticket sale revenue, collectively yielding more than $5 billion for local economies.
San Diego Comic Con, however, is an entirely different beast. The convention is estimated to circulate 100 times the ticket sale revenue back into the local economy.
The drawback of this massive and sudden expansion?
"When I first started to go to San Diego Comic Con in 1997, I would get in and I would feel special as part of that fan community. Now when I go, I feel lucky," Salkowitz said.