The trend of large exhibition companies acquiring regional comic conventions appears to be accelerating; in the second such deal since the beginning of the year, London-based Informa Plc has acquired Orlando-based geek culture show MegaCon, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Beth Widera, MegaCon’s owner prior to the acquisition, ran the show for CrossGen for four years and then acquired it in 2003 as CrossGen slimmed down (see “CrossGen Sells MegaCon”). It’s seen solid growth since then, and the show this weekend is expected to draw 70,000.
Informa also owns the Toronto-based Fan Expo, which it acquired in 2013. Fan Expo operates shows in Toronto, Vancouver, and Regina in Canada.
Fan Expo also expanded into the U.S. through the acquisition of Dallas Comic Con last year, according to the Dallas News, and now operates multiple shows there.
The addition of MegaCon to the Informa portfolio makes it a more significant player in the U.S., expanding its position in North America.
The first 2015 transaction of this type was the acquisition of Seattle-based Emerald City Comic Con by ReedPop, a division of Reed Exhibitions, part of the sprawling Reed Elsevier group (see “ReedPop Acquires Emerald City”). ReedPop also operates New York Comic Con in New York, C2E2 in Chicago, PAX shows in Seattle, Boston, and San Antonio, Star Wars Celebration, and numerous other geek culture events worldwide.
A third large company in the geek culture convention business is Advanstar, which has tied up with Comikaze in Los Angeles (see “Comikaze Diamond Deal Just the Latest”).
Wizard World, in the meantime, is launching new shows at a rapid pace, planning 25 shows in 2015 in cities as small as the #85 market in the U.S. (see “A Successful Wizard World Show in the #85 Market in the U.S.”).
The largest company devoted solely to the comic convention business, of course, is Comic-Con International, the non-profit which operates San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon (late of Anaheim but soon to be of Los Angeles, see “WonderCon Moving to Los Angeles”). As a smoothly functioning non-profit devoted to creating “appreciation for comics and related popular artforms,” it's likely to stay independent for the foreseeable future.
So that brings us back to the operators of regional conventions, who would seem to have multiple suitors looking to expand in their cities. Even an acquisition the size of Wizard World is not out of reach for the behemoths now operating in this category. Watch this space for the next deal--looks like this is going to be an ongoing story in 2015.