The annual San Diego Comic Con did the right thing this year and went 100% virtual, to comply with safety recommendations during our fun out-of-control pandemic. But was doing everything, from panels to trailer and news drops, entirely over Zoom as well-regarded by fans as doing it in person? Judging by some numbers dug up by Variety, absolutely not, not even with help from Keanu.
According to data supplied by social media analytics firm ListenFirst, everything was way, way, way down, despite the presence of numerous A-list talent talking about big movies and shows. ListenFirst claimed tweets that mentioned ComicCon@Home were down 95% from last year’s live brouhaha, with just 93,681 tweets vs. last year’s 1,719,000. Among those, tweets about the top 10 TV events were down 93%, while ones about the Top 5 movies were a staggering 99%.
YouTube views were even less promising. The panels all wound up online, but the average view count per panel was 15,000. As Variety pointed out, that’s twice as many who fit in the storied Hall H. On the other hand, even with the whole world granted access to big talks with big people, that’s…well, not terribly encouraging for future virtual Cons.
The best performing panel was, perhaps surprisingly, the one for The New Mutants, the cursed X-Men spin-off still scheduled for theatrical release next month, raking in 208,000 views since last week. That’s even far more than the TV champion, the panel for The Walking Dead, which nabbed 84,000 views.
One possible reason for such a law view count? No interaction. The panels may have occurred over Zoom, but they were dropped on YouTube, where fans couldn’t interact with creators and talent. There was also a dearth of panels from Lucasfilm and DC Films, and, for the most part, Marvel, aside from The New Mutants, from the Fox wing of the Marvel-verse, aside, as well as the documentary series Marvel 616. Indeed, the weekend’s biggest virtual fan event wasn’t at Comic Con but Zack Snyder debuting a short clip from the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League at an unrelated online event, which he did live, with plenty of fan interaction.
Granted, the reworked virtual version of SDCC had to be done with almost no time, and with interactive on-line technology still not close to the standards of in-person Cons. Considering America isn’t even close to the end of the first phase of Covid — to say nothing of any future phases — maybe everyone involved will have plenty of time to get it right next year, should large clumps of humanity still be unable to hang together indoors.