According to the first ever analysis of online gaming released by the world's leading game console maker and online gaming experience, during the month of February the audience for online gaming with PlayStation 2 was at its strongest from 5 to 11 p.m., hours before traditional prime time kicks in and long after it has concluded. And 18-34 year old males made up about 65 percent of the online audience during prime time hours in the month of February, a sweeps ratings period for the television industry. Online gaming may increasingly pose a challenge for broadcasters. The audience for online gaming with PlayStation 2 was up 239 percent when compared to February of last year, with 67,708 new gamers registering during the 29 day month.
"When people go looking for their favorite entertainment, some are turning to online gaming with PlayStation 2 instead of tuning into broadcast television," said Andrew House, executive vice president, Sony Computer Entertainment America. "We believe the compelling content we offer online gamers will continue to drive the growth of our online platform, far outpacing other online gaming destinations and potentially rivaling the popularity of more traditional entertainment mediums like television."
Nielsen Media Research reported in September an unusual 8 percent decline among the already elusive audience of men ages 18 to 34. Many television analysts said they suspected electronic gaming was pulling these young viewers away from television.
Sony Computer Entertainment America expects the growth in the audience for online gaming with PlayStation 2 will accelerate as the company adds new titles to the online library. In the past 12 months, 42 new titles have gone online and Sony Computer Entertainment America plans to double the total number of titles available for online gaming with PlayStation 2 before years end.
House pointed to the company's SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs title as an example of how great content builds the online audience.
Nearly 1 million copies of SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs were sold in a few short months and nearly 50 percent of this audience has played the game online. SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs players spend an average of 4.2 hours a day playing the game online. SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs has logged a cumulative 31.5 million player hours in the first 100 days, proving the demand for compelling online content from consumers is high.
"SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs is the most popular online console game, allowing consumers to interact with a huge community of players. It is setting the bar for online entertainment," House said.
Sony Computer Entertainment America has the advantage of leveraging the huge installed base of PlayStation 2 users into online gamers. Recently, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced PlayStation 2 surpassed the 25 million sales mark in North America. Already more than 10 percent of this staggering installed base is online, beating initial platform lifetime projections for online gaming in less than nine months.