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Video Games Score 5% of U.S. Household Entertainment Budget
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Video Games Score 5% of U.S. Household Entertainment Budget

U.S. consumers face a dizzying array of choices in how to spend their media and entertainment dollar. At the same time, the current economic climate has put even more pressure on how households make decisions. With these forces in mind, Nielsen Games surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. consumers to examine their overall entertainment spend with a focus on the video game category.

A baseline for thinking about entertainment spending is the notion of “share of wallet,” defined here as the percentage of monthly spending for all entertainment options by a household. At a macro level, the video game category represents 5% of total U.S. households’ entertainment spending. Among households that are active buyers in the video game category, this figure is nearly double, with over 9% of total entertainment spend attributed to game-related content.

Monthly Entertainment Share of Wallet (%)
Category All U.S. Homes Video Game

Buying Homes

Participating in activities such as dining out, shopping, going to a museum 24.8 20.4
Regular TV packages (such as basic cable) 17.9 13.0
Participating in non-media activities at home, such as hobbies 6.9 7.7
Attending live events (such as concerts or sporting events) 5.9 6.3
Seeing movies at a theater 5.4 5.9
Cellular phone-related entertainment (all but calling plan) 5.3 5.3
Video game content (new and used games, downloadable content, rentals, peripherals) 4.9 9.3
Buying or subscribing to magazines, books or newspapers 4.2 3.4
Premium TV packages (such as HBO) 4.1 3.7
Buying or renting feature films on DVD, Blu-Ray or video 3.5 4.3
Participating in personal wellness activities 3.4 3.4
Participating in sports activities 3.1 4.1
Other mentions 3.0 3.4
Buying CDs, MP3s, or other forms of music 2.8 3.8
Entertainment-related options on the internet (website subscriptions) 2.2 2.7
Satellite radio subscription 1.3 1.5
Buying Video-On-Demand or Pay-Per-View 1.2 1.8
Source: The Nielsen Company

= Over-index at 120% or more vs. Total US Households

= Under-index at 80% or less vs. Total US Households

Before jumping further into the analysis, there is one important point to keep in mind. Put simply, shares do not equal dollars. Individual households spend different amounts in total on entertainment, which may deflate or inflate shares for a given category. In addition, these results are a reflection of consumer claims that are useful directionally in understanding how consumers perceive their allocations of money.

Video game category buyers (those spending at least $1 per month on game-related content) comprise 24% of U.S. households, and their share of wallet profiles paint a picture of valuable, tech-savvy entertainment consumers. Besides video games, they over-index substantially on DVD/Blu-ray, music, online entertainment, and VOD share of spending. They are also higher in share for movie-going, sports activities, and live events. These higher shares come at the expense of more established media options like basic cable and print media, where video game category buyers under-index notably.

Given the 24% buyer base, the video game category is notable for what other forms of entertainment it surpasses in share of spending for the average US home: all print media (4.2%), premium TV packages (4.1%), DVD/Blu-ray purchases and rentals (3.5%) and music in all its forms (2.8%).

More insights on gamers, console dynamics, and game buying will be featured in the inaugural Nielsen 360° Gaming Report: United States Market, available in March.