Videogame Consoles Steal Away More Viewers for Video in 2012

Sony's PlayStation 3 most used for streaming services and to play discs.

More people turned to their videogame consoles in 2012 to watch video.

Around 22% of owners of Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii accessed video-on-demand services and platforms last year, up from 19% in 2011 and 13% in 2010, according to a new Nielsen report.

The study found that the PlayStation 3 was used more for watching DVD and Blu-ray discs, at around 18%, but that’s down from 22%. The PS3 has a built-in Blu-ray player. The Xbox 360 was used the least, with just 9% of users turning on the device to watch a DVD or Blu-ray, mostly because it only plays DVDs.

The PlayStation 3 also was the most used when it came to streaming services — something Sony has been touting, citing its system as the most popular for Netflix.

Nielsen didn’t deny that, saying nearly 24% of time spent on the PS3 console was used to stream content, up considerably from the 15% in 2011. Streaming through the Xbox 360 remained relatively flat at 13% over 2011.

The numbers bode well for Hollywood content creators, who have increasingly been kicking the tires of videogame consoles as a platform for digitally distributing their entertainment.

In January, Nielsen said 56% of American TV homes own a videogame console, but that is likely higher given that the number was based on figures at the end of September, well before the holiday shopping season when many consoles are sold.

For a closer look at how owners of each console used their systems in 2012:

Play traditional disc-based games: 33% (-1%)
Play online games: 33%
Stream video:  13%
Play DVDs:  9%

Play traditional disc-based game: 28% (-10%)
Play online games: 18% (+2%)
Stream video: 24% (+9%)
Play DVDs:  18% (-4%)

Play traditional disc-based games: 40% (-15%)
Play online games: 11% (+2%)
Stream video: 32% (-1%)
Play DVDs:  N/A