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How Many Bronies are There?
A correction: The original version of this article used the value supplied by a recent study for the number of individuals in the United States with access to the Internet as the base number for the calculations (240 million.) The correct base number is to take the number of individuals over 18 in the US (200 million), multiply by 80% (the percentage of adults who use the Internet according to a Pew Study) to get 161 million people, then add 95% times 20 million (the number of 15-19 year olds times the percentage of them who use the Internet), yeilding 180 million people. The remainder of the figures have been corrected to reflect this base number.
We've been studying bronies for a while now, and we know a lot about them as a group, but one magic question we don't know is how many of them (us) there are out there, in the general population. Luckily, as a Google Apps for Domains customer, I was gifted with a nice credit to use on the new Google Consumer Survey tool (they've done the same in the past with AdWords credits. So, for a mere $25, I was able to conduct a single question survey across 1,028 randomly selected internet users.
The question I chose to ask was "How strongly would you identify yourself as a 'brony', a fan of the television show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?." There were five choices available on a scale from 1 (Not at All) to 5 (Extremely Strongly). There were no labels on the intermediate values, it was a 1-5 star scale. There was 17% response rate, meaning that 17% of the people who saw the survey on their brower actually took it. This figure is important because it could introduce bias, if we imagine that people who identify more closely as a brony would be more likely to answer the question. However, Google has indicated in their published research that they experienced a 16.75% response rate during trials of the service, extremely close to the value for this survey, which tends to lead to the conclusion that the results were neither biased towards or against brony respondents.
The survey was conducted between approximately noon and 6PM Eastern time on September 12th, a Wednesday. Because students were likely to be in school during approximately half of that period, the results should represent a good mix between students and workers. In fact, the sampling bias data provided by Google showed that the sample was lightly biased toward older female respondents in the midwest.
Now to the good stuff. Of those answering, 83.0% responded that they had no identification as a brony at all. This correspends to between 80.6% and 85.2% (CI=95%) in the general "internet using" US population. Conversely, then, between 14.8% and 19.4% of that population do identify to some degree as a brony. The estimated US population that uses the Internet is approximately 180 million people. This would correlate to between 26.6 million and 34.9 million people with some sense of "broniness" in the United States.
This is obviously a very large number, and probably doesn't accurate describe what one would normally think of as a brony. It might include people who merely look upon the show or toys with mild interest. Instead, we can restrict ourselves to only those respondents who answered either 4 or 5 on the question, what we would think of as "serious" bronies in all likelihood. In the survey, 1.5% answer 4, and 3.9% answered 5, for a total of 5.4%.