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Darthy Hooves

Attendance Drop for 2015???

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I saw posted on Facebook that the estimated attendance was announced at around 20000 for Otakon 2015 compared to 33000+ for 2014. If so what could have factored in such a drop besides the April riots & higher membership cost?

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Wow that's a huge drop if true. It definitely seemed way less crowded this year though.

I would guess there could be a number of factors and yes people scared away (even if there was no need to be) because of the riots is a good guess.

I also wonder if people felt the con was getting too crowded and decided to stay away until it moves to DC and a bigger facility of course ironically making the con less crowded this year.

Perhaps people were upset by last year's Thursday pre-reg and decided to not come back.

And yeah I suppose if you are on a budget the higher costs could factor in toox

But these are all guesses. No one can know for sure unless people say why they didn't come.

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I highly suggest waiting until Otakon officially announces their numbers to the internet before throwing out projected numbers. I don't see anything officially posted on the website, twitter, or Facebook page as of now. I know numbers were announced during Closing Ceremonies (I was not at this year's Otakon), so maybe once the official numbers are posted, there can be a better view of what the numbers actually are. 

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They said 20000ish at the closing ceremony.

Made it possible to attend more panels without fear of it filling up so i'm good as long as it doesn't affect the con's future.

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That explains why I didn't feel the need to rush anywhere this year, missed a couple of poorly placed panels though, Tales of and Pony Canyon being in the smallest panel room.

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Yeah, 28,000 was the number offered at the closing. I do not speak for Otakon, but as a local, I know how the city looked on the news, and I know it didn't look terribly good. There were something like 18,000 memberships (again, I have no idea) heading into the con. That means 10,000 or so (unless that figure counts staff?) getting theirs at the door. I don't know how that compares to previous years.

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You know, I originally wanted to ask THIS question at the Con Feedback Session, but I felt this was better suited for here BBS.  The 28,000 number really intrigued me, and I like many of you wanted to know how that compared to their projection for this year, and if it will change anything about their future plans, including what they can do down the Parkway in 2 years.

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I honestly liked the smaller number of people at the con this year as they had less lines, you could see almost any panel/AMV, or just move within the convention center without wall to wall people which was a hassle last year to many times which created "line con" where you had to line up an hr atleast in advance to see only a select number of things. This year it was maybe 15 minutes to a half hr. at most unless it was autographs which made a much more enjoyable convention since there were plenty of seats and plenty of time to actually enjoy the convention.

 

I noticed they handled things a lot better this year as well with less people as in the con feedback there were more complements then criticism which was not the case last year from what I heard and to be quite honest if the 28,000 number is correct then maybe they should cap 2016 at 30,000 people as 33,000 plus was just way to many people and they had way to many issues from the start in 2014.

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Well, I'm glad to hear the attendance drop wasn't as dramatic as people thought. It felt like people were getting their numbers from the pre-reg site until it closed last week and just stuck with that as their "source". Also keep in mind that the Otakon Facebook groups are all fan run and do not contain any official announcements from the con. You know, unless they have sources to back it up. :P

 

The last hurrah in the BCC will probably be good for the con next year. I honestly felt good about taking this year off as the anticipation will be even better for 2016. 

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I definitely can see the Thursday night badge pick-up debacle from last year, the riots and the "holding off until the BCC finale of next year" reason as reasons for the drop in attendance.

 

Speaking of the the possible reason of holding off until next year, I wonder if anyone else felt a "why bother" atmosphere in terms of the con attendees in general (as I didn't really see the great variety of cosplay like I saw in Katsucon earlier this year).

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whatever the numbers were would make a great limit for next year.  That was the perfect mix of crowd but enough space.

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I could tell that the attendance certainly took a tumble. Going into the last day of online pre-registration, the site still said it had over 10,000 membership slots left. Also, on Day 1, there was a seemingly unprecedented low amount of people in the Gaming Hall (unprecedented for myself that is, I've only been going since '10). I could walk up to many games and play numerous times with my brother without anyone lining up behind us. Heck, one MK8 was completely abandoned for a few good minutes before a group walked up. Things changed by Saturday and Sunday, but there were still some games where I could walk straight up and play.

 

My brother and I were discussing the number of reasons for this. As stated here, the city didn't look great on the news. I also live here and to have the city essentially turned into a prison with the curfew and National Guard certainly looked alarming. Certainly didn't help my paycheck working downtown and having my shifts that week cut short by 3-4 hours or cut altogether. I know from speaking with my manager that a few conventions scheduled for the summer canceled over the events.

 

However, I wouldn't be surprised if the cost scared a few people off. $80-100 is a lot.  I mean, I know it makes sense. They're trying to mount a huge move and they've had some nice things this year, but I could see some people choosing to skip on the cost alone.

 

I have to say though, I agree that the drop in attendees was nice. In addition to having a bit more space in the game hall, it was not too crowded on Hilton bridge, which made the lack of a partition this year not that noticeable. It was also easier to find a spot to sit, rest, and charge up. 

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I'm sure we'll discuss and debate the ramifications of the attendance numbers to death while we're doing our 2016 planning, since everybody - fans and staff alike - enjoy reading the tea leaves, attempting divination. =) 

 

In the very near term, I thought the year's numbers felt pretty good.

 

The BCC Skybridge is my usual litmus test for crowding. It seemed to be moving traffic at a good pace most hours. I could occasionally see daylight and didn't often feel overpowered by the, ah, "aroma" of my brothers and sisters in anime.

 

We didn't seem to have too many photo-shoot traffic jams going on (and thank you to absolutely everyone who was considerate enough to move out of the thoroughfare before striking a pose!).

 

The super-popular panels brought back haunting memories of linecons past, but most events were accessible - I was able to hit the Dealer's Room around 4pm Friday with no wait at all, which I'll rate as a sweet deal. (I didn't know Yaya Han was doing signatures this year; that was a pleasant surprise!) 

 

This year's attendance felt really good at the venue - full without bursting. I kinda liked it. But hey, I also really enjoyed Otakon Vegas for indulging the "small con" feel. Sometimes it's nice to get to do something other than press the flesh with our fellow fans. =) 

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Well the pre-registered memberships had reached 22,542 prior to Otakorp putting the kabash on reporting actual numbers on July 20, so the "20,000" number is definitely incorrect.

 

As to why the numbers are low, the reasons are probably a mixture of all the things mentioned above. There's no way any one thing is the sole cause.  But this could simply be a continuation of the trend started last year when Otakon recorded its first-ever drop in discrete membership sales and there were no riots last year to help explain the drop.

 

Things to look forward to in a couple of years...

1. No cap.

2. More rooms for panels/workshops/autographs/videos = an easier time for programming to NOT pit related panels against each other. This equates to an opportunity for members to see more of the panels, etc. they want to see and not have to choose.  THAT should result in more people coming back.

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I could tell that the attendance certainly took a tumble. Going into the last day of online pre-registration, the site still said it had over 10,000 membership slots left. Also, on Day 1, there was a seemingly unprecedented low amount of people in the Gaming Hall (unprecedented for myself that is, I've only been going since '10). I could walk up to many games and play numerous times with my brother without anyone lining up behind us. Heck, one MK8 was completely abandoned for a few good minutes before a group walked up. Things changed by Saturday and Sunday, but there were still some games where I could walk straight up and play.

 

My brother and I were discussing the number of reasons for this. As stated here, the city didn't look great on the news. I also live here and to have the city essentially turned into a prison with the curfew and National Guard certainly looked alarming. Certainly didn't help my paycheck working downtown and having my shifts that week cut short by 3-4 hours or cut altogether. I know from speaking with my manager that a few conventions scheduled for the summer canceled over the events.

 

However, I wouldn't be surprised if the cost scared a few people off. $80-100 is a lot.  I mean, I know it makes sense. They're trying to mount a huge move and they've had some nice things this year, but I could see some people choosing to skip on the cost alone.

 

I have to say though, I agree that the drop in attendees was nice. In addition to having a bit more space in the game hall, it was not too crowded on Hilton bridge, which made the lack of a partition this year not that noticeable. It was also easier to find a spot to sit, rest, and charge up. 

 

I think that pretty much sums it up well. A few friends that are casually into anime were hesitant to go when they saw the unrest in the spring and the $100 at-door registration sealed the deal for them not coming, although I can certainly understand why a price-hike had to happen.

 

On the flip side, being down anywhere from 3-5000 people makes a huge difference. It was particularly noticeable in the fountain lobby where it typically gets massively clogged with cosplay photo-shoots.  It was also nice not having panel rooms fill up quickly and the lines were relatively short compared to previous years. 

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hey all, long time otakon attendee (2002), first time commenter-

 

i absolutely LOVED the reduced attendance. one criticism i have is that with this free space, it felt extremely unnecessary for the convention to be so strict about going from the artist alley to the dealers room and vice versa. this morning i wanted to pick up my auction stuff then hop over to the dealer's room real quickly and had to basically loop around all over again. i understand at peak hours that this flow is necessary but at sunday at 9 am or whatever there is no reason to have half the doors be exit and the other half entrance.

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I agree that the reduced attendance was nice and the extra space was definitely welcome, but I wonder about the financial impact to the con. Are we going to be seeing $120 registration fees next year because of the hit to the con's revenue from this year, for instance?

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If they raise the price to $120 thats going to cut the attendance big time, and I doubt they will take such a big risk since for many this year one issue of coming or not to the convention was the higher prices of admission if you did not pre register and even if you did the price was on the fence for a lot of people.

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I agree that the reduced attendance was nice and the extra space was definitely welcome, but I wonder about the financial impact to the con. Are we going to be seeing $120 registration fees next year because of the hit to the con's revenue from this year, for instance?

 

I highly doubt that it would come to this. They will just budget for a smaller con rather than try and maintain the current level and raise membership fees. They would just have less foreign and American guests to reduce costs.

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Four people that I know of decided not to go because of the higher cost. Each said that the April riots didn't impact their decisions.

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I wonder what demographic the drop came from.  Was it younger fans that didn't want to pay the increased membership?  Out of towners that are not willing to travel into Baltimore anymore?  Older fans growing out of the convention scene? 

Otakon won't publicly release this information, but it would be interesting to data mine the membership non-renewals over the past 3 years and see what is really happening to the attendee count.

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I think part of the problem is that people have less disposable income than in years past. Now that medical insurance is a must, that depletes disposable income for those who have to either share the cost, or pay out of pocket. Also many business are hiring more part-time workers & reducing full time jobs to cut costs. Having less disposable income means less time for travels & vacations which would probaly impact some of Otakon's attendence.

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I agree that the reduced attendance was nice and the extra space was definitely welcome, but I wonder about the financial impact to the con. Are we going to be seeing $120 registration fees next year because of the hit to the con's revenue from this year, for instance?

 

I highly doubt that it would come to this. They will just budget for a smaller con rather than try and maintain the current level and raise membership fees. They would just have less foreign and American guests to reduce costs.

 

 

Given that this is the last year in Baltimore coming up and the year after that is the move, we shouldn't be pleased that the next two years at least will likely be lower quality than we're used to. By lower quality I mean less guests, which is in my opinion, the best part of Otakon.

 

It's not just the 5k attendance drop, but the potential that Otakon planned for growth this year, so more like 7k or higher. That's over half a million dollars at $95 a piece. That's a lot of money that could be used on making the last year in Baltimore a bang.

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It's not just the 5k attendance drop, but the potential that Otakon planned for growth this year, so more like 7k or higher. That's over half a million dollars at $95 a piece. That's a lot of money that could be used on making the last year in Baltimore a bang.

 

Well, Otakon did not have much room for any growth while staying in Baltimore.  They had two years at ~34k memberships and the cap is 35k.  Still this is the first time that Otakon had a significant drop in attendance.

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Well the $500,000 less than the previous year isn't going to miraculously appear, so Otakorp will make due with what they actually HAVE rather than put themselves in the red in order to maintain appearances. The corporation has a fiduciary responsibility not to put themselves in debt. Those members that can't understand that will go elsewhere and that's fine with me.

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This is my tea leaf reading, but the Thursday night debacle in 2014 caused a lot of ill-will and it was going to take some doing to gain back our confidence. The fact that the disaster was repeated again this Thursday night won't help that. I predict another long, non-moving line on Thursday night in 2016 while the staff scrambles to figure out what went wrong with the computers and BCC management looks at their watches ready to toss them out of the building at 10:00 PM. The unthinkable has become the norm.

 

Other than that, I had a good con. My only observation was that the room named AMV Theater, was too small. Well, I assume it was too small as I never saw the inside of it. Every time I walked by it, there was someone standing there holding a "Room is full" sign.

 

The Oreskaband concert on Sunday was the highlight of Otakon 2015 for me. They were fantastic!

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I agree that the reduced attendance was nice and the extra space was definitely welcome, but I wonder about the financial impact to the con. Are we going to be seeing $120 registration fees next year because of the hit to the con's revenue from this year, for instance?

I highly doubt that it would come to this. They will just budget for a smaller con rather than try and maintain the current level and raise membership fees. They would just have less foreign and American guests to reduce costs.

Given that this is the last year in Baltimore coming up and the year after that is the move, we shouldn't be pleased that the next two years at least will likely be lower quality than we're used to. By lower quality I mean less guests, which is in my opinion, the best part of Otakon.

It's not just the 5k attendance drop, but the potential that Otakon planned for growth this year, so more like 7k or higher. That's over half a million dollars at $95 a piece. That's a lot of money that could be used on making the last year in Baltimore a bang.

Yeah I like how the convention felt less crowded but I worry about the financial repercussions of a drop in attendance.

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It's not just the 5k attendance drop, but the potential that Otakon planned for growth this year, so more like 7k or higher.

 

There was no reason for Otakorp to be planning on an increase in membership this year. Last year's membership was a decrease from 2013. Based on that, a sensible organization would expect flat sales or a continued decrease.

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It's not just the 5k attendance drop, but the potential that Otakon planned for growth this year, so more like 7k or higher.

There was no reason for Otakorp to be planning on an increase in membership this year. Last year's membership was a decrease from 2013. Based on that, a sensible organization would expect flat sales or a continued decrease.
A 200 attendance drop isn't that big a deal. Given how much the economy has improved since last year I would have forecasted an equivalent attendance or growth. Not a 17% decrease in attendance. That's a significant drop and I am sincerely concerned next years convention will suffer for it.

Looking at the historical numbers this is the first time in Otakons entire history that such a significant drop in attendance is seen. Every year before this one was equivalent (within a few hundred the year prior) or higher.

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I have to agree with most of you, in general I noticed it was less crowded and liked it.  The past two years have been a nightmare checking out of the Hilton but this year I still waited until 11am to start moving luggage/bags to my car and it amazingly was not bad getting an elevator. 

 

I wonder about one of the posts here, why would Otakon have lower quality guests over the next two years?  I know about the last year and moving to DC, but why would guests not come to the con?

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They're saying that as a way to offset any lost revenues from this year's lowered attendance, cuts in programming and guests would have to come about. Fewer people attending means less money for the con and therefore less money to put towards things like guest travel costs (they don't spend their own money to come to Otakon).

I'm sure there's some sort of "rainy day fund" and all, but between the big expenditures on the 20th anniversary a few years ago and the upcoming move to DC, plus whatever is being used to run Otakon Vegas (unless that's a separate account), I have to wonder how much cushion the con has.

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They had more or better guests in the past two years than this year, in my opinion.  Last year was Yoko Kanno and X-Japan!  I didn't see the musicians this year to be honest, I'm not knocking them, but I would think they cost less this year than last year.  I'm drawing a blank on who the musical guests were two years ago.

 

I would hope their DC costs would be lower, at least the first year.  You'd think the venue might sweeten the deal because they want to try to keep them coming long after the BCC is done renovating.

BTW, does anyone know how long it will take to renovate the BCC? 


Actually I might have my years mixed up, I think X-Japan was last year and Yoko Kanno was the year before??

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Speaking as someone who didn't purchase a badge for the first time in 21 years, I can state the reason I decide not to is simple I didn't like how they (Otakorp) setup the three tier badge system it should have been one cost be it $85 or $100 and all the badges should have been shipped with the cost of shipping part of the price for the badge.

 

One other item that should be taken into account is over the past few years more and more cons have started and folks are now starting to really decide what's in it for me when it comes to going to cons, this was the first year that there was no Dr. Who or Star Wars shoot one reason for this is allot of that fan base have started to go to the RegWho Con and to Awesome Con.

 

As for next two years I think that Otakon has hit its highwater mark for attendance in Baltimore last year, as for DC I see a disaster in the making the first year for the following reason, 1) Higher cost of hotels in DC 2) Booking a hotel in and around the Convention Center 3) The distance that most of the hotels are from the Convention Center 4) Heavy regulation by the Police Agencys near the convention center on props 5) Metro Issues with props and costumes

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I have to agree with most of you, in general I noticed it was less crowded and liked it.  The past two years have been a nightmare checking out of the Hilton but this year I still waited until 11am to start moving luggage/bags to my car and it amazingly was not bad getting an elevator. 

 

I wonder about one of the posts here, why would Otakon have lower quality guests over the next two years?  I know about the last year and moving to DC, but why would guests not come to the con?

 

Dostovei explained my thoughts pretty much exactly. Less revenue from the current year means less revenue to put towards the next year. High profile guests with rigorous schedules need to be paid appropriately for their time.

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Actually I might have my years mixed up, I think X-Japan was last year and Yoko Kanno was the year before??

Yoshiki piano concert was last year.  The year before was a monster for musical acts since they had Yoko Kanno, Home Made Kazoku, and TM Revolution.

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Actually I might have my years mixed up, I think X-Japan was last year and Yoko Kanno was the year before??

Yoshiki piano concert was last year.  The year before was a monster for musical acts since they had Yoko Kanno, Home Made Kazoku, and TM Revolution.

 

 

Yup, 2013 and 2014 were absolutely amazing. Not to knock this years musical acts, Back On in particular were really good, but I can't imagine the cost of OreSka/Back On/Draft King comparing to Yoshiki and TMR. This is why I'm worried we'll see a recession of sorts for guests over the next few years. Lower than expected attendance this year and moving to a larger venue in 2017. It screams budget cuts.

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They had more or better guests in the past two years than this year, in my opinion.  Last year was Yoko Kanno and X-Japan!  I didn't see the musicians this year to be honest, I'm not knocking them, but I would think they cost less this year than last year.  I'm drawing a blank on who the musical guests were two years ago.

 

I would hope their DC costs would be lower, at least the first year.  You'd think the venue might sweeten the deal because they want to try to keep them coming long after the BCC is done renovating.

BTW, does anyone know how long it will take to renovate the BCC? 

Actually I might have my years mixed up, I think X-Japan was last year and Yoko Kanno was the year before??

 2012 was VIXX (kpop group), 2013 was TMR, Home Made Kazoku, Chiaki Ishikawa and Yoko Kanno. Last year (2014) was Yoshiki and some of X-Japan.

 

I'd agree that the last 2 years had great, well-known guests (in 2012 VIXX had one whole single and was still in their infancy as a group as well as being kpop) but before that in 2011 there was Nobuo Uematsu and Chemistry, and back when attendance was around ~22k they had AAA, Mell, Jam Project, etc. So Otakon has a history of bringing in pretty well-known, mainstream acts as far as music goes, even with lower attendance. I'm not worried.

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The convention did feel much less crowded then previous years. My group travels from Ohio to attend and I know at least four people who decided to stay away from Otakon until it moved to Washington D.C. because of the crowding issue. I also believe that the conversion on last year’s #LineCon still haunts the convention. Which is a shame as the registration situation was much improved.

 

** Then there are the segment of people who are so confused they thought the convention was in DC this year but you can’t help some people ** 

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** Then there are the segment of people who are so confused they thought the convention was in DC this year but you can’t help some people ** 

 

Yeah I saw someone on twitter say they thought the convention was moving to DC this year. Then when someone said 2017 they said they keep changing it. Instead of realizing they completely got their facts wrong.

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Yeah, definitely noticed less crowding this year. My money is on a combo of last year's terrible Thursday pre reg line experience (a lot of people I've seen saying they didn't go over it - and I'll admit I considered doing the same last year) plus the increase in membership fees. 

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They had more or better guests in the past two years than this year, in my opinion.  Last year was Yoko Kanno and X-Japan!  I didn't see the musicians this year to be honest, I'm not knocking them, but I would think they cost less this year than last year.  I'm drawing a blank on who the musical guests were two years ago.

 

I would hope their DC costs would be lower, at least the first year.  You'd think the venue might sweeten the deal because they want to try to keep them coming long after the BCC is done renovating.

BTW, does anyone know how long it will take to renovate the BCC? 

Actually I might have my years mixed up, I think X-Japan was last year and Yoko Kanno was the year before??

 2012 was VIXX (kpop group), 2013 was TMR, Home Made Kazoku, Chiaki Ishikawa and Yoko Kanno. Last year (2014) was Yoshiki and some of X-Japan.

 

I'd agree that the last 2 years had great, well-known guests (in 2012 VIXX had one whole single and was still in their infancy as a group as well as being kpop) but before that in 2011 there was Nobuo Uematsu and Chemistry, and back when attendance was around ~22k they had AAA, Mell, Jam Project, etc. So Otakon has a history of bringing in pretty well-known, mainstream acts as far as music goes, even with lower attendance. I'm not worried.

 

 

2012 also had Aya Hirano performing.

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Well they had Romi Park this year who I think is a pretty huge guest. I even saw people on the AX board saying we got the better seiyuu this year.

 

I also think dub wise Chris Sabat and Sean Schemmel were pretty big.

 

What is a big guest is all a matter of perception.

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The other possibility that I haven't heard anyone put forth is that Otakon has seen its heyday come and go. One of the panels this year was "End of the Anime Industry as We Know It". I've also noticed that Barnes and Noble's manga section has shrunk 50%, and a large chunk of what's left is dedicated to the "Bleaches" and the "FairyTails" (i.e. big sellers). The opportunity for a smaller manga to find room on the allocated space gets less each year. Best Buy used to have an entire row with anime. Now it's basically "Bleach" and some Ghibli classics.

 

The evidence is pointing to a waning interest in anime and manga... at least near where I live.

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Nor do I intend to TRY and explain about other cons. they aren't near where I live.

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^ it has nothing to do with your area, the things you describe are happening in all areas. The anime boom has been over for a long time but the market has stabilized. Yes you may see less anime/manga in brick and mortar stores because now you can easily purchase anime/manga online.

And many younger fans do not care about physical media at all and care more about reading and watching anime/manga online

I just have to disagree that a waning interest in anime/manga has decreased attendance when across the country anime con attendance is getting bigger. So in my opinion other factors are at work.

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 I've also noticed that Barnes and Noble's manga section has shrunk 50%, and a large chunk of what's left is dedicated to the "Bleaches" and the "FairyTails" (i.e. big sellers). The opportunity for a smaller manga to find room on the allocated space gets less each year. Best Buy used to have an entire row with anime. Now it's basically "Bleach" and some Ghibli classics.

 

Barnes & Noble are doubling their inventory on manga across the board, and celebrated that this week with the "Manga Mania" event, with tons of giveaways and a buy-2-get-1-free sale. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/july-19-manga-mania/

 

Most Best Buys are doubling their admittedly meager shelf space for anime, in response to the fact that anime is the only home video category that saw a sales increase in 2014.  So, I don't believe this is a major factor.

 

To me, the contraction in attendance can be attributed to the protests, registration problems last year, the jump in price, and the lack of big name guests-- Park was a great get, but typically Otakon will bag 2 or 3 guests on her level, plus at least one major North American premiere. I'm sure the convention wasn't wild about the numbers, but I kinda appreciated the extra elbow room. I'm still confident that next year will be a big one because it's the last year in Baltimore, and who knows what 2017 will hold?

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