DC is rolling out some data from the Nielsen survey that ran last fall, and their Source blog and ICv2 have the details. All told, roughly 6,000 readers participated in the survey, which isn’t huge considering that 250,000 people or so bought Justice League #1 but it’s definitely a decent sample size. The results are everything that I expected but didn’t want to see.
The first thing DC announced on their blog, as if it were big, exciting news was this:
The launch of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 galvanized the traditional fan base for superhero comic books: male readers, who were already—or have at one time been—comic book fans.
So basically, the people who are buying their comics now are mostly the same people who were buying them before. This isn’t great… in the lead up to the relaunch, there was a lot of talk about reaching new readers, and all of the effort they were putting into advertising and previews in non-traditional places to bring them in. All told, only 5% of the survey participants were new readers. Plus 70% were “avid fans” who hit the shop every week, ie. the readers they had already. The relaunch was the biggest move DC’s ever pulled, and while it brought back a few lapsed readers, 5% new readers has got to be a big letdown for everyone at DC. What else can they do to get in new readers? Relaunching everything again seems a little silly.
Maybe they could appeal to women, the 50% of the population that comprised only 7% of the survey participants. That is flat out ridiculous. There are SO many ladies out there, and DC’s doing nothing to reach them. Maybe the 5% new readers stat will be the swift kick they need to realize that just marketing to men isn’t going to cut it, but I’m not holding my breath.
DC also pointed out that:
More than 50% of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 readers were between the ages of 13 and 34.
But that’s not the full story. Of this “more than 50%”, only 2% were below 18 years of age, so it doesn’t sound like DC’s getting them young. This is hardly encouraging for long term growth. These middle-aged men aren’y going to be around forever… DC needs to bring in a new generation of readers behind them. DC’s sort of terrible at reaching a younger demographic though… my nieces and nephew have been raised to be HARDCORE DC fans but now they’re getting into Marvel. Why? Because Marvel cartoons are ALL OVER Netflix, and there’s no DC shows to be found. I’m indoctrinating them as best I can, DC, but you’ve got to help me out!!
Overall, the numbers we have so far are really disheartening. I expected a lot of the same old, but not this much same old. DC’s prospects for long term growth in the comics market are looking pretty grim right now. I’d really like to see the entire survey results, as I’m sure there’s a lot more fascinating information in the details, but DC will likely keep a lot of it to themselves.
I will say that I was encouraged to see that DC is planning to conduct more surveys in the future, and use this first survey as a baseline. They definitely need to follow up on these numbers, and hopefully they’ll learn something from them. The current system just doesn’t seem at all sustainable, which worries me because I’d like to be reading new DC comics until I’m old and grey. Get to fixing things, DC!!