Video Games Are The Newest Cable Channels

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Trying to understand the real size and scope of the television viewing audience is near-impossible. Even with all of the new monitoring systems, it’s hard to really figure out who is watching what (and how much attention they’re paying to what’s in front of them) – especially when compared to web analytics.

Beyond the introduction of newer types of media and beyond the general fragmentation of television (from cable to specialty channels), the TV industry is also dealing with issues like on-demand programming, pay-per-view, DVR/PVR and much more. On top of that, there is multi-platforming as well (this is where consumers are consuming more than one media channel at once – think about how we are using our laptops and smartphones while the TV is on at the same time).

And, if that were not enough, TV is about to become even more challenged. It’s not happening because of the Internet, but it is coming from the video gaming industry.

On November 19th, 2009, Mediaweek ran the news item, Microsoft, Nielsen Launch Game Pilot Test: "When discussing the reach potential of its fast-growing Xbox Live platform, Microsoft executives have recently taken to comparing the gaming service to a small cable network. Now, the company will have an opportunity to back up that that claim through a partnership with Nielsen that will bring TV-like metrics to video game console. Specifically, Microsoft and Nielsen have agreed to launch a pilot test for the game 1 vs. 100, a multiplayer, Web-based version of the popular TV game show that is played via Xbox Live. Nielsen will track the second season of 1 vs. 100 for 14 weeks using its traditional measurement tools, including the Nielsen people meter… The goal will be to provide 1 vs. 100 advertisers with metrics that can be compared to their typical TV campaigns, including Gross Rating Points (GRPs) and Targeted Rating Points (TRPs)."

This is where advertising starts to get very interesting.

Entertainment is entertainment. Advertising is advertising. It may be a TV show, it may be a website. It could be a Blog, it could be a video game. The competition for the almighty ad dollars continues to rage on. In the past, there has been significant news/noise about how both Sony (for their Playstation platform) and Microsoft would be looking at developing original TV-like content for their consumers to watch on demand/download, etc… Motley Crue had more downloads with one of their latest singles for a video game than they did from the iTunes store.

If these video game platforms can deliver quality and relevant programming to their consumers (and, make no mistake about it, they have the existing fan base), we could well see video gaming platforms become as significant as (maybe even bigger than) some of the established cable channels.

How do you think that will play out?


  1. If you’re suggesting that the gaming industry could be a channel to advertise in, I think that is most definitely true. However, it’s a very limited demographic channel. Is there a huge following for live video games? Yes, as evidenced by the popularity of Modern Warfare 2. I’m NOT in their demographic and don’t play video games, but I do know the name of this game and that it is so popular among young men that videos of the game itself are consistently showing up in YouTube’s most viewed videos. If you have any contact with this demographic, young men, then you’ve heard of this game.
    So this certainly could be a very powerful niche for some advertisers.

  2. Keep in mind, there are platforms (like wii) that have a much broader demographic base and many people have bought a PS3 because of the Blu Ray and processing speed. Add on to that the online communities and connectivity and you suddenly have something that is more akin to an entertainment system or cable box (with more speed and access) than a video game console. The leap is not about getting a broader demographic for the gaming side… it’s for everything else.

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