The sales indexes for December 2011 were released today and after being on top of the charts all fall, DC was bested by Marvel last month. Wonder Woman did really well, which was nice to see… it was up one spot from November, rising from 17th to 16th. But DC as a whole was back in second for the first time since the relaunch began.
My initial thought was “Wow! Already?” and I was pretty surprised that revamping the entire line only got them three months in the top spot and that things had returned to the status quo. But I’m no expert on these things so I thought I’d take a closer look. And build charts, because things are always easier to understand with charts. It was an exciting Friday night. So here’s what I found:
“Dollar Share” refers to each publisher’s percentage of the overall amount of money spent, while “Unit Share” is each publisher’s percentage of the month’s total issues sold. The numbers are different for each, but the trends seem pretty much the same.
Again, I’m no expert here, but I noticed a few things. First is that the first eight months of the year were relatively consistent. Marvel beat DC soundly in both categories by about the same amount each month. However, it looks like DC got a pre-DCnU bump in the summer with slight gains in June, July, and August. Those were Flashpoint months at DC, but they were also Fear Itself months at Marvel, so you’d think that might balance out some. Whatever the case, DC was on the rise even before the relaunch started.
Second, October was nuts, obviously. DC edged out Marvel for the top spot in September and November, but October was just crazy. Strong second issue sales combined with sales from the reprints of all of the first issues resulted in some pretty epic sales.
Third, while DC whooping Marvel only lasted for one month, DC’s edging out Marvel in September and November was a huge change of pace. Marvel usually beat DC soundly before the relaunch, so while DC’s wins weren’t huge, they were a dramatic shift from how the numbers used to pan out.
Fourth, DC’s second place finish in December is still WAY better than all the pre-DCnU months. It’s in no way a return to the status quo. The positions might look like the same old, but the differences between the two publishers are slight, and way better than the blowouts that characterized January through August.
So is the DCnU a bust? The best answer is that time will tell… it’s only been four months. But so far, it looks like a bit of a bubble. September and November were good, October was GREAT, and December was pretty decent too. DC is still better now than it was beforehand. But they do seem to be in a bit of a decline. October to November was a precipitous drop, though November to December was much smaller. Nonetheless, if this slow decline continues then DC might be back to their pre-DCnU levels in a few months.
What the hell, let’s do a fun experiment. Nothing is on anyway, though I do sort of want to rewatch last week’s Sherlock. But I can do that in a few minutes… let’s do some calculating first:
- DC’s pre-DCnU averages (January through August) were 28.1% for Dollar Share and 31.6% for Unit Share.
- From November to December, Dollar Share dropped 0.95% while Unit Share dropped 1.94%.
- Let’s assume the numbers continue to drop by this amount each month. If we do, in six months the Dollar Share will hit it’s pre-DCnU average. Unit Share has only four months.
So, Dollar Share would be back to the old status quo by June 2012, and Unit Share would be back by April 2012. This is pure conjecture, of course, but it’s sort of worrisome. DC can’t do anything bigger than a relaunch… if revamping EVERYTHING doesn’t even get them a year of above average sales, where do they go next?
Anyway, I feel like I understand things a little better now, so that’s fun. Things are still going well for DC, even though they’re back in second place, and they’re well above average. But this is two straight months of decline… how long until things settle down back to normal? Maybe they have something else up their sleeve (like a Lois Lane book… seriously, do a Lois Lane book!! But a good one, because the new Superman books aren’t really doing it for me), and there’s digital sales to factor in, and the collections yet to come. But it’s looking less and less like DC’s picked up much of a new, stable audience in floppy sales. It’ll be interesting to see how the next few months turn out.