What is San Diego Comic-Con without the San Diego? A huge flop, apparently. Comic-Con @ Home, the digital version of the annual pop culture showcase failed to lure in crowds to check out ZOOM panels of their various fandoms, with social engagement way down and a shockingly low average of YouTube viewers.
Variety reports Comic-Con @ Home had a disappointing inaugural (and hopefully only) edition. The virtual convention saw social engagement plummet 94% compared to last year. ListenFirst’s analysis shows that tweets mentioning Comic-Con @ Home were down 95% from 2019’s on-location convention — just 93,681 tweets against 1,719,000 tweets in 2019. Tweets about the top 10 TV events dropped 93%, while it was a 99% drop in tweets over the top 5 movie events.
Meanwhile, it was pretty ugly in terms of YouTube viewership. Thursday was the busiest day for livestream panels, but the average number of people watching was just 15,000. While YouTube notes that number is considerably more than the number who cram into Hall H each year, the difference is attendance is free and available to the world right now. A popular YouTube video might get views in the millions.
So there are a bunch of theories why Comic-Con @ Home didn’t work out. You could blame COVID-19, which causes the event to go digital in the first place. Maybe people just have more important things on their mind than watching celebrities talk about their upcoming movies or TV shows. It also doesn’t help that Marvel, Warner Bros., and many of the studios provided little to no content.
That’s not the real reason, though. Comic-Con is an experience. All of us who attend each year go for the feeling of being there, amongst our tribe. We go to walk the floors, to see the cosplay, to check out the exhibits, to be in the same room with our favorite stars. That feeling can never be captured by watching a video on your phone or sitting at your desk. And if, God help us, we’re still going through this nightmare next year, it might be a good idea to just skip it altogether.