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Viewers watching more streaming video on game consoles

XboxNetflix
Video game consoles aren't just for gaming anymore.

Increasingly, people are using their Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii devices to stream movies and TV shows, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Nielsen Co.

Because all three consoles readily connect to the Internet, viewers can use them to access video-on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Major League Baseball Network and ESPN to watch on their TV screens rather than on small computer monitors.

And that seems to be just what consumers are doing. Streaming video accounted for 14% of the average time spent using Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 in October, up from 10% a year earlier, according to a Nielsen survey of 3,000 people.

For Sony Corp.'s PS3, the share of streaming video was 15% this year, up from 9% last year. The shift was even more dramatic for Nintendo Co.'s Wii, which jumped to 33% from 20%.

Xbox and PlayStation users also spent an additional 5% of their time watching movies and television shows they paid to download, an option not available on the Wii.

That's good news for studios looking to make more money through digital distribution. Game consoles, along with the Apple TV, are the most popular ways to reach people who want to watch video on their high-definition televisions.

It's more troubling for television networks seeking to boost their ratings and ad revenue, however. The new data emphasize that consoles aren't stealing viewers' attention just with video games but also with content that serves as a direct substitute for traditional TV watching.

Game consoles have proved particularly effective for Netflix. An earlier Nielsen survey found that half of the users who utilize its streaming offerings do so on the PlayStation, Xbox or Wii.

Two of the consoles are also popular as DVD players. People spend 15% of their time on PS3s watching DVDs or Blu-ray discs. Sony's device is the only console that plays Blu-ray discs and is the best-selling Blu-ray player on the market. Xbox 360 users spend 9% of their time watching DVDs. The Wii does not play movies on discs.

Below is a Nielsen chart summarizing the survey results.

Nielsen Video Game Console Usage

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-- Alex Pham and Ben Fritz

Photo: The Netflix interface on Xbox 360. Credit: Netflix Inc.

 
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