San Diego Comic Con May Still Be The Largest Pop Culture Convention In North America

Last week, we reported on New York Comic Con’s attendance numbers, which would seem to indicate that the event had surpassed San Diego Comic Con as the largest pop culture event in North America. The San Diego Comic Con unofficial blog have called New York Comic Con’s numbers and the assertion that it is now top dog in the convention game into question.

The SDCC unofficial blog post points out that NYCC counts “unique visitors” by individual ticket packages purchased. So a 4-day pass counts as a single unique attendee, the same way a single day pass does. The problem arises when attendees start purchasing tickets a la carte. If a single attendee purchases single day passes for a two different days, they are counted as two unique attendees. The discrepancy becomes worse if you consider how some people will purchase four single days passes once the four days passes are sold out.

The SDCC unofficial blog makes clear that they’re not accusing NYCC of fudging their numbers, asserting that this method of counting unique attendees is the simplest and most effective for the way NYCC distributes their passes, which is via mail to individuals at their home. By comparison, San Diego Comic Con forces attendees to create user IDs when they purchase a pass, tying every pass they buy to that single unique ID, and requiring the attendee to bring their ID to pick up their passes on site. As such, SDCC can simply count the number of user IDs created to purchase entrance into the event in order to figure out how many people attended the event.

To put it more simply, NYCC counts how many badges were sold, and SDCC counts how many people they sold badges to.

“We have no way to determine who is using those tickets [nor] does it really make any material difference,” Lance Fensterman, Senior Global Vice President of NYCC organizer ReedPOP, said. “We theoretically could parse that data in any number of ways depending on how much time and effort and resource we want to put into it.  But ultimately the unique ticket sold metric seems to balance giving the most accurate representation of the size of the audience without us going nuts parsing data that really does not add that much value to the customers.”

This makes a direct comparison between SDCC and NYCC numbers inaccurate, but the SDCC unofficial blog still believes the San Diego Comic Con to be the largest convention in the country. One reason for this is the size of the respective venues. Both events sell out to capacity, but the size of the San Diego Convention Center that hosts SDCC is 2.6 million square feet, compared to the 1.8 million square feet of the Javitz Center where NYCC takes place. Additionally, the SDCC unofficial blog points out that NYCC does not make use of every area of the Javitz Center, meaning that it would be impossible for NYCC to have a larger crowd than SDCC because there simply wouldn’t’ be enough space.

The SDCC unofficial blog also points out that, while New York Super Week is a great initiative, it doesn’t compare to the SDCC campus of offsite events, at least not yet.

The SDCC unoffcial blog tries to give NYCC credit where its due in its closing paragraph, but still reasserts San Diego Comic Con’s primacy at the same time:

New York Comic Con did a lot of things right this year — we’re currently drooling over how well their wristband and stage clearing system seemed to work — but if we’re going to talk about who has the title of the biggest pop culture convention? Let’s at least get our facts straight.