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The Next Frontier For Gaming Is Your Smart TV

Plenty of ink has been spilled covering the competition between TV programming and video games for the attention of today’s audience. 

But according to a range of research reports compiled by gaming and esports media company Subnation, those lines are beginning to blur… to the potential benefit of connected TV devices and platforms. 

Subnation recently co-published a map of the “Gaming Omniverse” with media pundit and professor, Evan Shapiro. (You can see Shapiro’s map of the Connected TV Ecosystem, exclusively on TV[R]EV, here.) The company has since expanded that map of the gaming world with a compilation of compelling research illustrating how gaming-related content could be the next frontier for forward-looking TV programmers. 

The takeaway from this presentation, which Subnation shared with TV[R]EV, is that gamers don’t just play video games, they consume gaming content in notable volumes. 

Yes, gamers are defined by playing games, to the tune of 8 hours and 27 minutes a week, according to a survey by Limelight Networks. But that same study showed that gamers on average (across all age groups) spend an additional 3 hours a week watching other people play video games, and nearly as much time watching esports tournaments. 

That’s on par with watching traditional sports on TV. And when adjusted for age, viewers 18 – 35 spend almost an hour a week more watching video games than sports. 

Further making this point is data from Stream Hatchet, showing notable growth in the hours of gaming content streamed in 2020 over 2019, with Amazon’s Twitch leading the way among platforms: 

In other words, gaming is no longer just a competing entertainment format. It’s evolved to a genre of programming in its own right. This is something anyone creating content for streaming TV platforms can use to engage gamers straying from traditional TV to other sources of entertainment. 

Smart TV brands seeking to engage the gamer audience already do so by touting gamer-specific product stats like Latency/Lag, Refresh Rate, and resolution. The next step would be to add a programming hub compiling different types of gaming-related free and even premium content to engage these gamers off their console of choice. 

Subnation is already curating and creating this sort of multifaceted gaming video content experience for audiences. For example, the company has a slate of live shows airing across platforms like Twitch with influencers such as King of Sneakers and Alec Strasmore blending gaming and other subcultures like fashion and music. Additionally, Subnation recently brought on Jim Roush, former EP of The Voice and Shark Tank, to create premium programming designed for TV, like LVL UP (think ‘Pimp My Ride’ for gamers).

More such integrations are likely to follow because, as the Gaming Omniverse clearly illustrates, the gaming world takes multiple forms with multiple communities: esports dwell in the LifestyleZone, individual game franchises in the StudioZone, console-specific communities (read: fanboys) in the PlatformZone. There’s even an entire subculture of mobile and social gamers just ripe for engagement. 

As for target market, gamers and connected TV owners overlap. The 18-34 year old age group leads both videogame use (at 38%) and daily connected TV use (55). The 35-54 year old age group closely follows, at 26% of videogamers and 48% of daily connected TV users. 

The lines between gaming and TV will only continue to blur. Treating these formats as competitors for screen time is yesterday’s battle. It’s no longer about competition, but complementing content.