What Early Prerelease Scheduling Means for Your Attendance
Before the Core Set 2020 (M20) Prerelease, WPN members had limited time to schedule their events—before the end of the scheduling window, about ten weeks before Prerelease. But with M20 and all sets going forward, you can schedule right up to the day of the event.
So when's the best time to schedule Prerelease, now that you don't have to do it ten weeks early?
Short answer: ten weeks early.
All the data agree. Let's take a look.
Average Decline in Prerelease Attendance Vs. M19—If You Scheduled After the Deadline
By "deadline" we mean the distributor selection cutoff. In the old days, we would have called it the end of the scheduling window. It was May 13 for M20. It's August 2 for Throne of Eldraine. (Schedule now!)
Overall, M20 Prerelease roundly outperformed M19. But most of that growth went to stores that scheduled early—stores that waited until after M20's deadline saw an average seven percent decline in attendance.
And the longer you wait, the more your numbers suffer. The decline drops to 11% for stores that scheduled only three weeks in advance, and a whopping 28% for stores that scheduled on Prerelease weekend. (We looked at attendance by store, not by individual events.)
Bottom line: late scheduling risks disappointing attendance. You see this correlation everywhere—even among the WPN's top-performing stores.
Percentage of Premium Stores That Schedule Before the Distributor Cutoff:
And the other 5%? They didn't do as well. But more on that in a minute.
Our goal here is to share best practices—to help WPN members give themselves their best chance of success. One way we do that is, we look at the data. Another way is, we look at WPN Premium.
WPN Premium helps us understand how the top-performing stores behave, and gives us some visibility into their success, which we can then pass on to all stores. It probably won't surprise you that one factor in that success is early scheduling—95% scheduled M20 Prerelease before the deadline.
Now back to the other 5%: those stores that waited to schedule saw, on average, 10% fewer players than those that scheduled early.
What causes the drop off? It could be the Store and Event locator.
Average Decline in Store and Event Locator Traffic—If You Schedule After the Deadline
The earlier you schedule your event, the longer your event is in the Store and Event Locator. The longer your event is in the Store and Event Locator, the more views it can get—and the more people have the opportunity to see it.
Think of it this way. For M20, if you scheduled on the earliest possible day (April 29), your events were in the locator for about ten weeks. So you got ten weeks of exposure—you had the opportunity to be discovered by every player who visited the locator between April 29 and Prerelease.
But that number—the number of visitors to the locator—gets smaller and smaller as Prerelease gets closer.
For example, if you scheduled M20 Prerelease on June 17 when card previews started, you were in the locator for about three weeks. So you got three weeks of exposure—and during those three weeks, the locator got 40% of the traffic it got in the ten week period.
And in the week leading up to Prerelease, it got 17%.
Another way to look at it: schedule right away and you get exposure with 100% of views to the Store and Event Locator before Prerelease. Schedule three weeks out and you get 40%. Schedule week-of and you get 17%.
So it's only natural that a good percentage of the WPN is already benefitting from that exposure.
Percentage of WPN Members that Have Scheduled Throne of Eldraine Prerelease:
If you're in the other 66%, what are you waiting for? All the data agree: schedule your events right away!