Temple City, CA, March 15, 2004 – Keenspot Entertainment, the most popular publisher of exclusive online comics since its launch in 2000, has announced its total revenues for 2003 grew by 81.2% over the previous year’s total, making it their highest-grossing and most profitable year ever. With the soaring popularity of new and existing features, even greater growth is predicted for 2004.
“Our 2003 gross of $188,475 is an 82.5% jump over 2002’s $103,976 in revenues,” said Chris Crosby, Keenspot Co-CEO “These numbers certainly aren’t spectacular in comparison to major traditional print publishers, but they show that webcomics are a thriving, growing industry that could be a major force in the future of entertainment. Along with fellow digital comics publishers like Modern Tales and Wirepop, we’re slowly but surely building a webcomics industry chock full of original new characters and concepts.”
Thanks to the long-term sponsorship of Keenspot by companies like pair Networks, Pioneer Entertainment, and Retromud, Keenspot’s online advertising revenues in particular more than doubled, increasing 134% from $41,713 in 2002 to $97,626 in 2003. “Anyone who says web advertising is dead doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” said Crosby. “We’re attracting way more advertisers than we did during the internet boom times of 2000. Subscriptions are great and we offer them ourselves, but they’re far from the only path to a successful business model for webcomics.”
As profits increased, so did the amounts printed on Keenspot cartoonists’ quarterly paychecks, with some regularly seeing four-figures. Over a dozen new cartoonists joined the Keenspot group in 2003, with many more expected to be invited this year.
Features added to the 2004 Keenspot line-up so far include the 3-year old webcomic “Striptease” by Chris Daily (www.stripteasecomic.com), about the strange life of a comic-book artist and his friends; Meredith Gran’s 6-month old superhero/fashion adventure “Skirting Danger” (www.skirtingdanger.com), previously a pay-to-view comic updated two-times-per-week on the Modern Tales subscription site Graphic Smash and now 100% free-to-view and updated three-times-a-week on Keenspot; and the debut of “Sore Thumbs” (www.sorethumbsonline.com), a politically-oriented, gaming-related, manga-style comic by Owen Gieni and Keenspot Co-CEO Crosby, which attracted 22,211 unique visitors on its first day.
While income increased dramatically, Keenspot’s overall popularity stayed relatively steady in 2003, increasing only 11.5% over 2002 (from 400 million impressions/pageviews to 446 million). “This is probably reflective of the fact that we added almost no new features until late in 2003 and the fact that we’ve done virtually no outside advertising since our humble beginnings in 2000,” said Crosby. “On the plus side, that’s still nearly a half-billion pageviews we’re generating annually, and January 2004 impressions jumped a whopping 48% over the same month in 2003.”
Print publishing, other merchandising and Keenspot PREMIUM subscriptions accounted for the balance of 2003 revenue in the amount of $90,849. Keenspot print publishing is expected to grow even larger in 2004 thanks to an ambitious slate of new book titles planned, which started with “Chopping Block Vol. 1” and “RPG World Vol. 1” earlier this year. The Keenspot book line is exclusively distributed to the book trade by CDS (Client Distribution Services), which also exclusively distributes a handful of other comic publishers including Marvel, TOKYOPOP, and Crossgen. Keenspot book titles are now being carried by Books-A-Million, Waldenbooks, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Musicland (Mediaplay, Sam Goody), and many other stores.
That really was me. Didn’t realize I wasn’t logged in.
The success of any webcomic business venture is great news for every creator.
Wow! That’s a lot more revenue than I expected Keenspot to be making.
Hmm… just as a comparison, how many accounts did Joey say MT had? 4,300? Let’s see… that’s 4,300 * $3 * 12 = $154,800. Wow. Looks like webcomics are starting to make some serious money all around.
Interesting, to say the least!
I think, if nothing else, this press release shows the enormously underestimated ability of free comics to turn a profit. This seriously brings into question the necessity of a pay-model for webcomics at all.
The only benefit of the pay-model, that I can see, is for comics that require a huge amount of KBs per page. The ad model still requires each page to have roughly less than 100K, but this limit is quickly disappearing. It makes me think that, rather than the “end of free,” we shall soon be seeing “the end of pay.”
Congrats to Keenspot! 81% growth is great! And thanks for mentioning MT in your press release. You guys are the real pioneers — we’re trailing you by a year or two, at least. And we always will! Grr!
And fie on you for nabbing Kiwi. Fie, fie, fie.
Notes to the anonymous posters:
On the guesstimate of MT’s revenues:
A significant number of our subscriptions are still at $1.95/month — and quite a few (particularly for AmericanElf.com) are even at $1/month (depends on the site & whether or not somebody is a “lifetime charter subscriber” or not). The price people pay when they first sign on is the price they pay for life, until and unless they cancel and then re-subscribe. So your estimate is a teensy bit high, but not by much. That 4300 number is the number of total active subscription accounts for all 7 of the MT sites, too, by the way, not just MT itself.
On “the end of pay”:
Pay comics and free comics will both happily co-exist, just as pay TV and free TV do. Commercial comics that are designed to reach mass audiences (think network television) will do well on an advertising model, while commercial comics that are more of an acquired-taste/cult-following kind of thing (think HBO) will do well on a pay model. Popular as they are (or were), The Soprano’s or Sex in the City would have never made it on network television. For the widest possible diversity of comics types and story types, both models are necessary — and more models need to be invented.
And, of course, non-commercial comics will always be free. And many of those are fantastic.
That we have done as well as we have, competing with so many great free comics, both commercial and non-commercial, is a sure sign of the strength of the pay model, and the need for it.
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