Yes, two-thirds of all guys aged 18 to 34 have access to a video-game console in their home and three out of four boys aged 2 to 11 played on a video-game console for at least a minute during fourth quarter. But so did half of all teenage girls, according to the latest figures from Nielsen's "State of the Console" report.
"Seeing the amount of reach gaming has in teenage girls and women 18-34 is pretty impressive," said Nick Covey, marketing analytics and development manager at Nielsen Gameplay Metrics, and author of the report. "Part of that might represent the increasingly multimedia use [of the gaming console]." As a sign the gaming console is beginning to be seen as more of an entertainment hub, the report said more than half of console owners consider their DVD-equipped gaming system to be a DVD player.
The increase in women gamers may also be coming from the growth of Nintendo's Wii console, which wasn't addressed specifically in the survey but will be in a coming one. Added Jeff Herrmann, who heads Nielsen's new video-game-measurement service, "we've seen quite a number of Wiis enter the market, it's consistent with what you hear in the press." For now, Nielsen is just measuring general gaming-console use. Later this year it will begin reporting use by game title and platform.
The gaming audience appears to be growing older as well. The median age of a console gamer was 17 for that quarter, compared to 16 for the year-ago period and 15 in third quarter of 2004.
Nielsen has begun measuring gaming through its Gameplay Metrics division, which is meant to bring traditional ratings data to video gaming by title, genre and platform. Nielsen can monitor all gaming consoles that are connected to TVs in its 12,000-person national people meter TV sample and can detect when that console is the viewing source. Because of that, Nielsen can measure the cross-media behavior and flow between gaming and TV.
The report found the console household universe has grown 18.5% since fourth quarter 2004, compared to 1.6% growth in the total universe of TV households. In fact, right now, 1.6 million Americans are gaming via a console, such as the Wii, the XBox or the PlayStation.
But that doesn't necessarily bid ill of TV viewing.
More TV watching
"Our data show key demos are consuming more TV in addition to gaming," said Mr. Covey, marketing analytics and development manager. "There's this whole notion of multitasking and media competing for their attention but they seem to have the ability to consume more of everything."
The report also included a day-part analysis, which showed gaming peaks in the 10 p.m. hour and TV viewing peaks during the 9 p.m. hour. However, gaming has a much broader "prime time" than TV viewing, meaning that dynamic ads served into games midafternoon can be just as valuable as ads served during prime time. And knowing these trends can make the idea of cross-promotional spending more interesting, said Mr. Herrmann.