SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST

SXSW says it had 421,900 at 2017 events as it continues unifying conferences

Posted June 16th, 2017

(Updated, 11:55 a.m.) 

Three months after South by Southwest 2017’s conclusion, the organization behind its events has released a six-page report on how many people participated this year, among other statistics.

Clouding the picture is that for the first time, SXSW combined some of its event structures in a move that no longer clearly separate SXSW Interactive from SXSW Film and Music.

In all, SXSW said about 421,900 participated in SXSWeek, with 70,696 attending its Interactive, Film and Music conferences for 2017.

In 2016, SXSW reported 37,660 Interactive participants, 19,942 Film participants and 30,369 Music participants for a total of 87,971, but SXSW has always noted that due to Gold and Platinum passes, there’s overlap for those who attended more than one of the conferences. Film Festival attendance for 2017 was 70,574. SXSW said 285,804 attended festival events (this includes single-ticket admissions to music performances and wristband sales), and 167,800 attended official music showcases.

A spokesperson for SXSW said of the report, “While we’re accounting for numbers differently, overall participation is on par with 2016.”

For South by Southwest Gaming, its videogame-focused event that takes place on its second event weekend, three-day attendance at first appears to have dropped from 76,200 in 2016 to 47,430 in 2017. This year marked the first time SXSW has charged a fee to attend SXSW Gaming; three-day passes were $39-$49 depending on when they were purchased.

However, SXSW says the 2017 numbers don’t include SXSW badgeholders who also attended Gaming

“In the past we've counted badge RFID scans in the total number for Gaming. These numbers represent wristband purchases exclusively and don't include badge scans as in previous years. We are encouraged by the numbers for Gaming in 2017, and look forward another great event next year,” a spokesperson said.

SXSW did not list attendance figures for some of its newer offshoots including SXSW Comedy. 

A report on the economic impact of SXSW on the city of Austin with analysis from Greyhill Advisors is due later in the summer.

SXSW also released a 2017 demographics report that includes information about gender, occupations and originating location of its attendees. According to the report, 54 percent of attendees identify as male, 45 percent identify as female and less than 1 percent identify as “Other.”

The largest age group of SXSW attendees is 25-34 at 38 percent (followed by 35-44 at 33 percent) with the largest chunk of attendees (37 percent) earning more than $150,000 a year. 45 percent of SXSW attendees are from the west south central region (Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas) or the pacific region (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii).

Last year, SXSW reported 11 percent growth for SXSW Interactive from the previous year. In 2017, South by Southwest broke down silos between its main legs, allowing attendees to attend more events in other parts of SXSW than in prior years.

Notable speakers at SXSW 2017 included former vice president Joe Biden, the cast of “Veep,” researcher Jennifer Doudna and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Next up for South by Southwest is an event in Frankfurt, Germany, the “Me Convention” it’s working on with Mercedes-Benz launching in September.

Here’s a link to the full report.

Updated at 11:55 a.m. with comment from SXSW and clarification on SXSW Gaming attendance.

Updated 6/17 to correct demographic figure.

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