More than 40 percent of U.S. households with televisions now also have video game consoles, according to a new report released Monday by Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services.
By the fourth quarter of 2006, 41.1 percent of all TV households — representing 45.7 million homes — had video game consoles, compared with 39.1 percent in 2005 and 35.2 percent in 2004.
That represents an increase of more than 18 percent since the end of 2004. By contrast, the number of total television households rose by only 1.6 percent over the same period, Nielsen officials said.
Battle for the Living Room
“The video game console has become a major player in the battle for the living room,” said Jeff Herrmann, vice president of Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services. “In households across the country, consoles are successfully competing for consumers’ time and attention; not simply as gaming platforms, but as multimedia hubs that also can deliver high quality digital movies and IPTV.”
Nielsen’s report incorporates data from the company’s National People Meter (NPM) sample of television households as well as its quarterly Home Technology Report. It is the first in a series from Nielsen examining gaming industry trends.
Later this year, Nielsen will launch its GamePlay Metrics service with metered video game usage and demographic data by game title, genre and platform.
Among the study’s other findings were that two-thirds of all men aged 18-34 have access to a video game console in their homes, and that in any given minute of the day, about 1.6 million people in the United States are using a video game console. The top 20 percent of heavy-usage gamers, meanwhile, average a whopping 5 hours and 45 minutes of usage per day, according to the report.
“These numbers don’t surprise me,” Michael Cai, director of broadband and gaming at Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorld. “Current generation consoles are getting cheap, and game genres are diversifying. Instead of just sports and the traditional gaming genres, now we also have a lot of nontraditional ones like ‘Dance-Dance Revolution,’ ‘Guitar Hero’ and Wii sports games that appeal to less hard-core gamers.”
Such nontraditional games have expanded the reach of video games and consoles into new, more diverse markets, Cai added.
“It’s a combination of factors,” Ted Pollak, senior analyst for the gaming industry at Jon Peddie Research, told TechNewsWorld. In addition to dropping prices, Pollak cited the emergence of a new class of “gaming families” as the first generation of gamers start to have children of their own. “Oftentimes, gaming is one of the first things they share with their kids when they reach the right age,” Pollak explained.
A third factor behind the growing gaming trend is the increasing prevalence of games based on licensed intellectual property such as movies or even restaurants including Burger King, Pollak said. As evidenced over the last six to seven years, he noted, “more licensed properties automatically translate into deeper penetration.”