Gaming households have enjoyed access to TV through apps on their favorite consoles for years, so it makes sense that console manufacturers would take the leap into show business. OTT and original programming create additional value for those investing in gaming hardware, as well as revenue streams for game brands through subscriptions and advertising.
Nielsen recently found that 42 percent of TV households in the US own a video game console, compared to enabled smart TVs (28.9 percent) and streaming devices like AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV or Chromecast (23.3 percent).
Cord-cutting is on the rise as consumers forego cable to watch content when and wherever they please. PlayStation Vue was Sony’s answer to this movement.
“We’re going after the PlayStation user who is today not watching TV, driving a large ratings decline and is at high risk [for abandoning the pay-TV ecosystem],” Sony Computer Entertainment Group CEO Andrew House told The Wall Street Journal when PlayStation Vue was announced in 2015.
PlayStation Vue has since expanded to include HBO, Cinemax and a 24/7 ESL esports channel.
Video game enthusiasts are less likely to engage with mainstream platforms like cable TV, according to recent findings by analyst firm SuperData. Twenty-seven percent of video game livestream viewers watch most often during weekday evenings, often replacing primetime TV; 20 percent of US gaming video content (GVC) streamers are “cord-cutters,” SuperData found, compared to eight percent of the general US population.
In addition to offering OTT services, Sony keeps trying its hand at original programming, but PlayStation shows have yet to find their stride. It all began with The Tester in 2010 and then Powers in 2015. Powers, a series based on a comic of the same name, was a haven for product placement—gaining partners like Rolex, Dos Equis, and of course, Sony products galore. The show was canceled after two seasons, despite outperforming all other shows on PSN at the time.
Sony isn’t giving up, however, and is on the lookout for up-and-coming filmmakers to try again.
But what kind of an audience will they be serving to? Forty percent of Gen Z and 38 percent of millennials who subscribe to cable or satellite say they have plans to cancel their service in favor of an online-only option, according to Nielsen. Game consoles make it easy to make the switch, and PwC predicts that OTT and streaming subscription VOD revenue will grow to $10.4 billion by 2020.
Xbox found success with the documentary Atari: Game Over in 2014 and soon announced plans for Xbox Originals—a series of original programming exclusive to the gaming console. Since Every Street United, a documentary about aspiring football players premiered in 2015, however, all other announced projects have been stuck in “production hell,” as it were.
Apple, while not a console in the traditional sense, is certainly a gaming platform that has found success with its first original show, Planet of the Apps. Apple’s first step into branded content gives developers a shot at winning $10 million in funding and a top spot on the app store.
Excited app developers mean more apps, and more apps mean more shared revenue for Apple.