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'Cooties' is totally a technical term now

At Betty's request: the model (now with more correct numbers, and a new and exciting headline: more than two hundred million dollars).


Assume (as DC seems to do) that no female reads Batman; this means that about 70K males do (I'm using March 2006 sales data for everything), out of a total universe of DC buyers of 200K (the sales of Infinite Crisis; sadly, that was by far the best seller, so it makes sense in a handwaving sort of way to use it as the total population size).

Again, let's use DC's apparent idea (otherwise ASB&R makes no sense) that no woman reads comics. As, on the other hand, women can read comics (cf almost everybody in my f-list), we can handwave away gender-specific factors and argue/model/assume that there are 200K potential female buyers of Batman who aren't buying any comics right now.

Lets introduce the revolutionary concept of level of cooties in a comic. Assuming -yes, as DC seems to do- that there is an inverse relationship between what male and female readers want (in few words: no, DC, there isn't), we say that a comic has a level of cooties k (k between 0 and 1) if it has enough "girlie stuff" to make a proportion k of the potential female readers buy the title, and a proportion k of the male readers drop the title and step back in horror. (The symmetry of the assumption looks very implausible, but consider the counterproposition: it means that female readership could be raised without losing any male readers - which is exactly my point anyway.)

The key observation in the model is this: there are more women not reading comics (in this model) than men doing it, so raising the level of cooties gives you more readers in the aggregate. Say your level of cooties is k = 0.1. Then 7K of your 70K male readers will be off in the forums screaming (very manly, we hope) at you, while 20K females will pick up the issue, for a net gain of 13K readers. Sweet.

For symmetry reasons, a reasonable equilibrium point is to aim at having the same number of male and female readers (this assumes that the maximum level of cooties in a particular comic book is about the same as the maximum level of boobs or attractiveness to males; not a more unreasonable assumption that everything else here). We do a bit of algebra and arrive at k = 0.26 approx. At that level of cooties, you lose about 18K male readers, but win over 50K female readers, for a net gain of 32K readers, or about a 50% extra readership - my figures in the last post were off a bit (note to self: don't do this while asleep).

(ETA: A non-symmetric aim -as many women as possible- would theoretically raise total readership even above this number, although then arguably you have to consider second order effects, and in particular the convexity of the boobies as a function of cooties *is twelve*).

Anyway, 50K extra readers at USD 2.5 per issue is USD 125K per month, or USD 1.5M a year. With bank deposit rates at perhaps 6.5 points a year, this is equivalent -over the long term- to a single payment of about USD 23M, which is an estimate of how much free extra money they aren't bothering to take out of fear of cooties.

Ah, but then, DC/Marvel aren't about the comics these days, but about the movies, right? According to the trusty internet, Batman Begins grossed USD 370M. Using the same set of assumptions about cooties and such, if the Batman title were optimally female-friendly, the movie would have grossed USD 555M dollars - an extra USD 185M. Plus the USD 23M of comics, we can headline this at a nice-sounding "more than two hundred million dollars".


Comments

( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
onijade
May. 11th, 2006 12:02 pm (UTC)
Nice work. I'm sold.
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)
:p Thanks!
sharpest_rose
May. 11th, 2006 12:04 pm (UTC)
I bow before your TOTAL SUPREME AWESOMENESS.

I *must* have this for the website. I DEMAND it. Politely.

Pleasepleaseplease.

I am dying of laughing here. You = WINNER.
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC)
Yay! *is proud* Just tell me how you want me to format/phrase it.

Who'd have thought it, maths can be used for good...
maelithil
May. 11th, 2006 12:27 pm (UTC)
I love you. Seriously.

DIDIO TAKE NOTE, DAMMIT.
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
Maths can be fun. Or depressing, sometimes...
marag
May. 11th, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
::snort:: Anything that uses cooties as part of the explanation is automatically good :)

Interestingly, I'm currently *not* reading the Bat titles, although I'm reading Nightwing and Robin. I can't even tell you why, but they just didn't grab me. Well, obviously I'm not reading ASB&R because it's a piece of garbage not fit for lining a bird cage, but I meant the other Bat titles.

And Nightwing may lose me very soon because it's...odd.
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 01:17 pm (UTC)
And Nightwing may lose me very soon because it's...odd.

Word. I have absolutely no idea of what's going on there.
(no subject) - marag - May. 11th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
blythely
May. 11th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
Some of us are scientists and demand to see your algebra.
What would be most interesting is seeing this model graphed as a function of changes in k.
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)
Something like: P = potential female readers = potential male readers. M = current male readers, Fc(k) = female readers at cootie level k, Mc(k) = male readers at cootie level k.

Fc(k) = P*k
Mc(k) = M * (1 - k)
For symmetry-inducing k,
Fc(k) = Mc(k) => P * k = M * (1-k)
hence
(P + M)*k = M
hence
k = M/(P+M). For M = 70K, P=200K, this is 70/270 approx 0.26.

Anyway, total readership R at level k is R(k) = Fc(k) + Mc(k) = Pk + M(1-k) = M + k(P-M). This is an straight, with M at k=0 and P at k=1, but the fact that M < P (so boobs << 1) suggests that max k shouldn't be much bigger than boobs, and hence the symmetry condition.

Of course, a real economist would certainly make the case much better. :p
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jarodrussell - May. 11th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jarodrussell - May. 11th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - herozero - May. 11th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Well, kind of. - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC)
I... oversimplified things? Still, geeking out is fun *g*.
brown_betty
May. 11th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC)
I win! This is so beautiful, thank you!
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC)
*g* This is lots of fun, actually (and I lied simplified a lot). Somebody with formal economics training could do a lot with this...
covenhouse_cat
May. 11th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love this.
Please, may I post a link to this on my lj, and send it to my friends?
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
Sure, thanks! (Just please don't phrase it as if this were any sort of formal or scientific analysis; it's a couple of numbers and two tons of handwaving :) ).
phthoggos
May. 11th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Love the idea, but:

Assume that no female reads Batman; this means that about 70K males do, out of a total universe of DC buyers of 200K.

no woman reads comics. As, on the other hand, women can read comics, we can assume that there are 200K potential female buyers of Batman who aren't buying any comics right now.


I don't understand your reasoning here at all. 200k people bought Infinite Crisis -> 200k women who aren't buying Batman? plz explain.
__marcelo
May. 11th, 2006 09:45 pm (UTC)
It's pretty much that, with a lot of blablahblah in the way.

* 200k people bought IC, which was the best seller that month, so the pool of people buying comics now can be approximated by that figure. If DC's consumer base is what they seem to think it is, those 200k people are all males.

* OTOH, if the treatment of characters is going to be a variable (cooties), and there isn't any other huge factor that'd make comics inherently more interesting for males than for females (and what I gather from my f-list is that this is the case), then the potential pool of female comic book buyers, as a proportion of all women, is pretty much the same as the potential pool of male buyers as a proportion of all men.

* As both populations are roughly the same, then arguably the potential female comic book buyers are also 200k.

* Using again the assumption that DC isn't selling to women (that isn't my assumption, that's just the model's and perhaps DC's - I'd love to read those numbers), none of them is buying any DC comics - in particular, none of them is buying Batman.

You could say that I'm assuming a lot and making up most of the rest - and you'd be right *g*.
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 11th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 11th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 11:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - May. 11th, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 11th, 2006 11:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 11:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 11th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - __marcelo - May. 11th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 11th, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )

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