• The State of the Pony - How Healthy is the Fandom Right Now? (Part 1)

    Friendship is Magic is five years old now, with years of incredible fan creations and achievements under it's belt. We have made a huge impact, especially here on the internet, and the ride is still going steady. The amount of things that come in every day, even during that insane year-long hiatus, never ceases to impress me. What was once a niche group on a random 4chan image board has grown into a nerd-culture dominating cartoon equine behemoth.

    I get a lot of doom and gloom emails from people worried about ratings or their favorite artist no longer drawing ponies, and I figured it might be a good time to hop on here and clear up some things! There is no doubt that the fandom, as we know it, has changed a lot since the massive surge in 2012. Pony was a 24/7 thing for almost a year and a half, dominating millions of lives!  It still effects a huge amount of people, just not in the same, almost overwhelming way.

    From EQD's standpoint, it's always interesting to see things evolve over time. We have been here since the beginning, and lived through every potentially fandom shattering event imaginable.  It's time to analyze where we, as a collective of equine enthusiasts, are at!

    Head on down below the break for some STATE OF THE PONY. Look at how important that sounds.

    The Fandom's Peak!

    Lets start this off by looking back at where we came from without digging as deep as the fandom history series. There is no denying that 2012-2013 was our major fandom peak. This was that point in time where it was essentially "the thing" to rock a Rainbow Dash avatar on your favorite message board or gaming service. You couldn't go three links without running into someone with a pony. The internet was amazed, and geek culture groups everywhere wanted in on it. Hot Topic had an entire pony section filled with stuff flying off the shelves.

    These days, you will still run into pony avatars everywhere, just not as much. A lot of the people that hopped on just to be in on the new cool thing have moved on in terms of their everyday internet usage. Geek culture stores have dialed back the pony flood to specific collectables.

    This was all expected though.With how much there is to choose from in terms of digital entertainment, the trend followers have shifted to other "new" things, and My Little Pony's current following is primarily built on the true fans that will be here for the long haul. The difference between Friendship is Magic and other fandoms is how giant the remaining, active collective is. We still rock 30-40 pieces of art A DAY here on EQD. I don't think many other 5 year old fandoms can come anywhere near that.

    And at the end of the day, a lot of those people that "moved on" still return for major events. There is often a joke about never getting off the ride when it comes to pony, and it's not a lie. Episodes, movies, major fan projects, and more tend to cause a whole bunch of people to come out of hiding. Just look at conventions. A lot of major online friendships only meet up once a year at BronyCon, even if the members of a group are no longer super active in online pony.  Friendship really is magic! /corny/

    The Creators

    Content creation has always been the fuel that keeps us going between episodes and during giant hiatus. Without them, we probably wouldn't exist. As I mentioned above, this side of the fandom is still going incredibly strong. There have been a lot of major names over the years that take long breaks and return sporadically, but the core, ever-changing collective still releases things constantly.


    Over the past year and a half, an entirely new section has arrived in the form of analysis, giving people who may have lacked the artistic skills to fit in early on a way to break out. It's going through the same growing pains as every other form of pony entertainment has, but for the most part it's thriving on astronomical levels. People like Silver Quill and KP have huge followings, and new people are slowly gaining a voice every day. We are getting to that point where the gold rush is slowly stabalizing, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few other fresh charismatic video makers don't join the 50k+ subscriber ranks.

    Audio Books:

    Fanfiction has always been huge, just look at the juggernaut that is Fimfiction. The new, rapidly growing subset is the pony audio book. With services like Audible spamming every podcast imaginable this past five years, and the increasingly mobile world that can't find the time to sit down and read, being able to wander with a book playing in your ears is perfect for entertainment. Pony is all over it. We recently opened up to separating them from their usual place in the Nightly Roundup here on EQD.

    Oldschool Subjects: 

    I've already mentioned that art is still thriving. This is one a lot of people typically bring up when they worry about the fandom "dying". Over the years, we have seen loads of big name ask blogs and comic artists disappear, but they are typically quickly replaced. The newish blog "Horse Wife" is a good example of what can happen when you nail that niche people are looking for. Is the slumbering side of the fandom strict on what it will latch on to? It always has been. But with the amount of stuff we see made here, it's inevitable that people will be more critical on what they will follow over time. A lot of people came back from pony breaks to visit Brownie Bun and her husband every day.

    The Music Scene: 

    This is the final one I want to touch on with the creation side, as it's brought up more than most. It's no secret that having that giant base of early-fandom subscribers continues to make specific musicians dominate, and grow far past what they were when simply sticking to pony. Subs and views these days are hard to get in this area due to the time investment in exploring it. With things like art or comics, a quick scan will confirm if you like or dislike someone, but with music, you really need to sit down and give a song a shot.

    Of all the topics, music has definitely reached furthest in terms of fandom expectations. We still see people break out and get the subscriber swarm that helps them grow, but it's rare. A lot of genres have been done to death, and people like to stick to who they know. Some amazing new musicians that would have dominated in 2013 aren't being given a chance, and it's a bit saddening. The best thing you can do is hit up those spotlight music posts, or if you are feeling brave, grab the playlist at the bottom of Music of the Day for some that didn't quite make the main series here. Comment on their pages, comment on the EQD pages, give people some feedback. It's the best way to help them improve, and motivates them to make more.

    So, Is the My Little Pony Fandom Dying?

    For part one, lets end on the final question people constantly bring up. Is the fandom "dying"? Hell, I just discovered that if you drop "Pony Fandom" in Google, it auto-completes to that very question. People are worried, and it's perfectly natural to be. A lot of us have made some amazing friends here, and I don't think any of us would be around if we didn't love the ponies. "Dying" really isn't the right word though.

    I pointed out above that a lot of people essentially hibernate on pony these days. Don't get me wrong, there are a LOT of strong, 24/7 pony communities here on EQD and beyond for, but a good amount of people enter and exit based on what is currently happening. The entertainment overload is real, and the concept of "Fandom" has never been stronger with how easy it is to stay connected. Everyone has multiple fandoms now, with communities in all of their interests. When one is in hiatus, AKA pony last year, they bounce to something else and return when it returns.

    The best indicator here on how strong the fandom still is, probably centers around the convention scene. While no longer growing exponentially, they still pull in more numbers than the previous year in many cases. That hibernating side of the fandom is more than happy to dedicate a weekend or three to all out pony. And the massive core base that is always here welcomes them back with open hooves.

    Pony isn't dying, it's just celebrated differently than the peak in 2013. We have seasons all the way to 2017 confirmed, with a giant movie that will probably spark an even greater surge. I wouldn't worry too much!