Spending on game ads are flat despite the U.S. consumers continuing to face stay-at-home orders during the pandemic and the return of baseball, basketball, and hockey broadcasts, though these numbers should increase as soon as Microsoft and Sony start pitching their next-generation consoles (the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5) on TV.
From mid-July to mid-August, the game industry showed a small uptick in TV ad impressions (3.8%) compared to the previous 30-day period, and a slight decrease (down 0.13%) in estimated spend as well. Overall, 11 gaming brands spent an estimated $15.3 million airing 37 spots over 4,800 times, while generating 817.5 million ad impressions from July 16 through August 15.
GamesBeat has partnered with iSpot.tv, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company, to bring you a monthly report on TV advertising by the gaming industry. These are the ads, and by extension the games, that game marketers have been putting major muscle behind.
Below are the top five most-seen gaming industry TV advertisers from the period measured.
PlayStation had the most TV ad impressions again, with 354.8 million generated by two spots that ran over 1,250 times — though nearly all of those airings and impressions came from “A Storm is Coming,” promoting Ghost of Tsushima (the rest came from MLB: The Show 20). ESPN, AMC, and FX were the top three networks for PlayStation ads, accounting for over 56% of all impressions. Top programming included Major League Baseball, SportsCenter, and Family Guy. Clearly, PlayStation jumped on live baseball’s return to TV and a renewed interest in sports-related programming.
Nintendo had the second-most impressions during the time period, with 289.5 million from 19 spots across 2,360 airings. The brand had six of the top 10 gaming ads by impressions, led by “Put the World Back in One Crease,” promoting Paper Mario: The Origami King. Nintendo focused on a variety of other games in “My Way” spots for titles such as Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Animal Crossing, Super Mario Odyssey, and more. Over 90% of impressions for Nintendo spots were delivered on kid- and family-focused networks such as Nick, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network (among others).
GameFly.com is third in our ranking, with 57.6 million TV ad impressions from six commercials that aired 612 times. Once again, “Spare Change: Reviews” was the brand’s most-seen spot with 21.7 million impressions. All of GameFly’s spots came from previously run creative, except for its new ad focused on renting Paper Mario: The Origami King. Adult Swim, Comedy Central, and Laff TV were the top networks for GameFly ads by impressions. South Park, Family Guy and the NHL were the top shows.
Activision is No. 4 with 53.6 million impressions, concentrated heavily from August 10 to August 15. The only Activision ad to air all month was “User Reviews,” promoting Call of Duty: Warzone. Over 47% of impressions were from shows on TNT, FX, and ESPN, with the top programming by impressions all being sports-related (NBA, NHL, MLB, and SportsCenter).
MLB Advanced Media Video Games rounds out the top five, with 43.0 million TV ad impressions coming from two ads: “R.B.I. Baseball 20: Home Runs” (240 airings) and “Up to Bat” (15 airings). With live baseball returning during this timeframe, it makes sense that MLB would generate a renewed push around the game, which debuted before the intended season start date earlier this year. The top shows for MLB Advanced Media Video Games ads by impressions were all baseball-related, and nearly every impression came from a network airing sports (including Fox Sports 1, Fox, ESPN, and MLB Network).