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Gamers Tune Out in Primetime

Apr 8, 2009  •  Post A Comment

It’s hard to watch primetime television when you’re enjoying video games.
A new study by Nielsen shows that gamers with the most sophisticated networked consoles are less likely to be watching television in primetime than users of other consoles.
That means the shows most watched by these gamers often are in fringe and late-night time periods, a fact that could influence how planners approach reaching this group of consumers.
For its “The State of the Video Gamer” report, Nielsen looked at PlayStation and Xbox console users in the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket with incomes of $75,000 or more. The data comes from Nielsen’s national people meter sample of 17,000 households—the same sample Nielsen uses to calculate television ratings. Nielsen’s meters pick up usage of any device attached to a TV set, including video game consoles.
In December, Nielsen found the majority of game-console use happened from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a brief but noticeable decline at 7 p.m.
Nielsen said the average PlayStation 3 user plays 2.42 times per day for an average of 64 minutes per session. They tend to be medium users of television. Xbox 360 users play 2.15 times a day for an average of 78 minutes per session. They tend to be light users of TV.
Not surprisingly, primetime programs were not among the most viewed by these young gamers. In fact, among males who were the heaviest users of PlayStation 3 games, none of their 30 most-viewed shows on the broadcast networks were primetime programs. For them, the most popular TV viewing dayparts for broadcast were weekday afternoon and late fringe.
For cable viewing, 17 of the top 30 shows watched by heavy gamers did air in primetime, but other dayparts, including late fringe, weekday morning and afternoons, were more popular.
The most-watched broadcast shows among young males who are heavy video gamers were “NBC Nightly News,” “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “ABC World News Tonight,” “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and “Late Show With David Letterman.” Also showing up on the list were morning shows “Today” and “Good Morning America,” as well as the Spanish-language “Noticiero Univision” and “Levantate.”
On cable, gamers’ favorites included “Family Guy,” “House,” “FX Movie Prime,” the morning and early fringe editions of “SportsCenter,” “Robot Chicken” and “Comedy Central Movie.”
Nielsen said the list of most-viewed shows was similar for medium and light console users.
Some of the gamers’ TV watching happened on a time-shifted basis. On broadcast, the heavy users of PlayStation 3 watched 23% of their shows on a time-shifted basis. About 47% of their cable show watching was time-shifted, Nielsen says.
The broadcast network program with the highest percentage of time-shifted viewing among young male gamers was NBC’s “Heroes” at 23%. Among young women, the most time-shifted show was Telemundo’s “Dona Barbara” at 87%.
On cable, the show with the highest percentage of time-shifting among males was G4’s “X-Play” at 43%. Among women, the program with the highest percentage of time-shifted viewing is “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC at 47%, Nielsen said.

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