It’s Day Zero of San Diego Comic-Con! Read on for an in-depth look at this year’s programming schedule, by the numbers.
As usual, the con continues to grow: most major categories are up, including the all-important total number of panels. But notably, there was quite a big jump in the total number of panels this year – something that only happens every few years.
The 2015 schedule offers 781 panels (excluding games, film screenings, anime, and autographs, but including all panels that were originally offered – that is, including all those that may have been cancelled before the event begins).
The 2014 schedule offered 708 panels. That’s a 10% jump this year compared to last year’s meager 4.5% increase. Notably, between 2012 and 2013 there was also a 10% jump. Many long time attendees have joked about having “off” years for the programming schedule, and this pattern might imply that maybe there’s something to that idea. Like many crops, perhaps SDCC has a banner year followed by a recovery year.
To be fair, each year since 2012 has seen an increase. But this year the increases seem to be across the board: expanding even further into the downtown San Diego area, there are now more programming rooms than ever before. We’re up to 29 separate spaces, which adds over 1,000 seats in each timeslot to last year’s availability (25,115 in 2014 to 26,948 in 2015).
Those new rooms are small, however: the reigning champion of available seats remains Hall H, which will host 26 panels over four days. That’s a couple more than last year, but the across-the-board increase means its share of all the panels holds steady at 3.3%. However, those extra few panels make its total number of offered seats tick up: 26 full panels in Hall H would provide space for 169,000 attendees – more than enough seats for each attendee to pop in at least once, if room camping wasn’t allowed. That’s 24.1% of all available panel seat available in Hall H alone.
However, repeat readers of ConShark’s schedule analysis will recall that Hall H doesn’t host the majority of events. This year, that honor shifts to the 374-seat Room 23ABC, which is gearing up for 41 panels (5.2% of all programs, with 2.2% of all available panel seating). Ballroom 20 is ready for 22 panels, 2.8% of all programs and 14.1% of all available seating. In the mid-size category, Room 6BCF will have 32 panels in its 2156-seat space, which makes up 4.1% of all panels and 9.8% of all available seats.[table “” not found /]
The new panels and programming rooms have brought some new tracks along with them: take for example the addition of the Shiley Events Suite at the Central Library, a 333-seat space that will host a new string of education-related comics panels.
However, even these new additions aren’t enough to completely stop the decrease of comics programming on the schedule. It’s still the majority – by a long shot, at 35% – but it’s down 1.4% this year. While the next strongest category is TV with a distant 16.8%, the slight dip in comics panels gives credence to those who consistently cry “it’s not even about comics anymore!”
Overall, though, the categories seem to be holding relatively steady. The 1.6% increase in web-related programming is the largest chance, which is minuscule compared to last year’s (see the 4% decrease in comics programming on the 2014 schedule).[table “” not found /]
In the realm of SDCC’s programming series, things are also predominantly unchanged. Very minor increases to Spotlight (+0.4%), Film School (+0.35%), and Playback (+1%) and very minor decreases to How-To (-1.3%) and the Comic Arts Conference (-0.2%) are noticeable but aren’t really much to write home about. These days, we’re simply happy to see things like Spotlight (5.2% of all panels), the Arts Conference (2% of all panels), and the new Education panels (1.4% of all panels) still find a place on the crowded Comic-Con schedule.[table “” not found /]
Friday is actually trumped this year as the biggest day for panels: Thursday has it beat by just two events (228 on Thursday to 226 on Friday). Friday hangs on to 28.9% of all the panels, while Sunday slips slightly further witha 0.7% decrease to 107 panels hosted on the closing day of the con. On top of last year’s 0.6% decrease on Sunday, one can’t help but feel like panel organizers are fleeing Sunday as they slowly guesstimate earlier days to be better for their PR machines.[table “” not found /]
And here again for your handy reference is a chart of only the estimated seating capacities for each programming room.[table “” not found /]
*This is the maximum possible number of seats for the full Ballroom; it will likely be configured differently to accommodate the runway for the Her Universe Fashion Show.
Happy 2015 San Diego Comic-Con, everyone! Whether your favorite category is up or down this year, you can undoubtedly find something great to check out this weekend.
Hall H capacity and all programming information from the official 2015 San Diego Comic-Con programming schedule. All other room capacities based on the floor plans from the San Diego Convention Center, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Omni San Diego, Manchester Grand Hyatt, and the San Diego Public Library. Statistics exclude film festival, autographs, games, and anime programming but include panels that may have later been cancelled.