As most of you all know, I've been going to quite a few conventions recently, and it has been a bit of an eye-opener on the latest trends in the anime community, and the lessons that fansubbers of all kinds can learn about our target audience.
First off, I've attended these conferences as a fan. I do not reveal that I'm a fansubber in any way (although what I was cosplaying, which I shall keep a secret, may have provided some clues for those people who knew who I was).
I'll try to divide my perspective on what I saw into several main categories.
Subs versus dubs
The quality of dubs versus watching a series with subtitles is often a source of contention between anime fans in the fansubbing community, with the vast majority of those in the fansubbing community believing subs are superior to dubs. What I have noted talking to various folks at conventions is that for your average anime fan, that is often completely the opposite. A lot of your regular anime fans in the United States would much prefer to watch dubs. American anime voice actors are often very popular guests at conventions; there are very long lines just for autographs with them, and their panels are often packed to the gills.
Funimation and Crunchyroll have been pretty much hated names in the anime "fansubbing" community. However, without them, most Americans would not have had the exposure to anime that allows for explosive growth of anime convention attendance. This dovetails into the accessibility of anime; things like the streaming model, are very accessible to your regular person, and provides an effective means of getting anime to a potential audience. For those who don't like Funimation or Crunchyroll and want them to curl up and collapse, I personally don't see that happening any time soon; they have tapped into a very explosive market and are doing very well. In essence, I feel that with modern fansubbers only releasing HD encodes in 10-bit h.264 and not providing for the average fan who wants to watch their series with older hardware or with alternative means of playback that isn't a Windows machine is tantamount to shooting themselves in the foot.
Cosplay and older anime
First of all, I love just about every cosplay that happens at these conventions. It's not easy to do it even for a simple costume. Cosplay can be an effective vehicle in promoting older anime series that folks have not watched before.
Attitudes towards older anime
The modern anime fan in the United States at these conventions has not heard of many of the series that we grew up on, which is the focus of a lot of the series that we work on. Of course, people have heard of the various Gundam series, Dragonball, Sailor Moon, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and most of the Studio Ghibli movies, but beyond that, most folks have not heard of the World Masterpiece Theater series, or some of the other series that most of the old-school fansubbers work on today. However, I would like to stress that you cannot force anyone to watch a particular series; all you can really do is to promote them through discussion, cosplay, and other non-threatening or coercive means.