At Comic-Con this year, I joined the line for Saturday’s 11 a.m. Lost presentation at 8:30 a.m., for two reasons. One, I wanted to see what the producers had planned for their final appearance at the San Diego nerdfest, and two, I was curious to discover how much the show’s audience is engaged with the auxiliary (though additive) web content available.
So during the two-and-a-half hour wait for the panel, I asked Lost fans to answer the following question — how many of them watch not only the show, but the accompanying webisodes? Prior to Saturday’s announcement of Mysteries of the Universe: The Dharma Initiative, these consisted primarily of Lost: Missing Pieces, along with video content accompanying the series’ many ARGs helping to fill in storytelling gaps and cast new light on many of the show’s mysteries.
Both in line outside of the auditorium and then later inside the auditorium while waiting for the panel to start, I surveyed a sample group of those present to find out who had seen all of the webisodes, a few of the webisodes, or none of the webisodes. The results:
For those who hate pie charts, that breaks down to 22 percent having seen every webisode, 27 percent having seen a few of them, and 51 percent never having seen one, with a total of 302 people surveyed.
I am not a scientist, and as such am not claiming that my poll is anything close to scientific. But as we consider these results, bear in mind the following: These are not your casual fans, but dedicated followers of the show, some of whom lined up 16 hours prior to the panel’s beginning. And as best as I can tell, the length of time someone was willing to wait in line had a direct correlation to their engagement with the auxiliary materials. Which is to say that I found the largest concentration of those who had seen all the webisodes in the section of the auditorium where people like my friend Mike, who’d joined the line at 11:30 p.m. the night before, had secured a seat. Out of the people there who participated in my poll, 30 had seen every webisode, 16 had seen some of them, and only three had watched none.
In the next section I surveyed, containing people who had been waiting since at least 8 a.m., only two people had seen all the webisodes, and at least a whopping 50 people claimed to be entirely unfamiliar with them. One guy from that group, apparently mistaking me for an ABC employee, shouted that “You should really work on your viral marketing!” However, he was dressed up like Voldemort — thus, a clear troublemaker.
Conclusion? While the auxiliary Lost content has never been essential to understanding the show’s narrative, it was still surprising to see how many fans were willing to wait for hours to get a peek at some of the show’s secrets…when there are plenty of clues available via a simple laptop. So who knows? Maybe Voldemort had a point after all.