Wizard World is cutting back the number of conventions it runs in 2016 after a tough year in 2015, when the company lost $4.25 million. That’s a big swing from 2014, when Wizard World turned a profit of $995,000. Q4 must have been tough, as losses through Q3 were only a little over $2 million (see “New Shows, ConTV Drag on Profits at Wizard World”).
And it appears that revenues at existing shows declined, even as new shows were added. Convention revenue for 2015 was $22.9 million on 25 shows, vs. $23.1 million in 2014 on 17 shows. Average revenue per event dropped from $1.36 million per show in 2014 to $916,000 per show in 2015.
Even as gross convention revenue and revenue per show declined in 2015, the increased number of shows drove higher costs: salaries and share based compensation grew $944,000 in 2015, and general and administrative expenses grew $380,000.
The company’s investment in ConTV, a streaming channel for geek content, has been a money pit, with over $1.3 million in losses booked by Wizard World in 2015. It has now reduced its holding in the joint venture with Cinedigm to 10%, and is obligated only to fund $25,000 per month in expenses until November 2016.
Wizard World’s subscription box business, on the other hand, was profitable in its first year, with over $1.1 million in revenue, and over $48,000 in profits.
The company plans 19 live events in 2016, in 17 cities (twice in Philadelphia), and a cruise (see “Wizard World Hosts High Seas Convention”). Events in fifteen cities have been profitable in the past, so with only a handful of shows in cities in which it has not previously shown a profit, the degree of risk should be down significantly. The annual report also reveals that Wizard World plans to host live music concerts at seven of its events in 2016.
As has been noted by others in the convention business (see “ICv2 Interview: ReedPOP SVP Lance Fensterman”), the North American market for conventions is starting to saturate. Wizard World’s reduction in show count appears to reflect that reality.