Microsoft is looking to expand the amount of video advertising on its Xbox 360 console and its video entertainment partner apps including ESPN, CBS, Gamespot, Last.fm, Manga Entertainment and MUZU.TV who all joined the new Xbox LIVE Run of TV Apps program. The ads are aimed at engaging the social, game-playing and video-watching audience on the game console.
Ever since December when Xbox got a new interface and Microsoft started piling video apps on the console it has seemed that it is more and more aimed at a video entertainment crowd than at a video game crowd. That's sort of odd to me as we're the ones who have been financing Xbox's continued existence this past decade, yet games are now like the fifth option when you get to the main dashboard. It seems to me that we, as owners, should be able to better tailor the experience to our needs. For example, I rarely watch video on the console because my PC is hooked to the projector and I don't need to most of the time. I use it to play games and so would like games to be nearest the main screen as possible instead of having to roll past several other options. But that's just me I suppose.
The Xbox LIVE Run of TV Apps offers 15 and 30-second pre-roll spots and looks to help monetize all of the content they've been making available on the console. Of course, it's going to make tons of cash for Microsoft, since they're the gatekeeper and most likely the ad server and exclusive network for placing ads there. It seems like that's someone monopolistic on their part. I mean, would they accept ads from say Sony, for its Playstation 3 console or Nintendo for its Wii game console both of which are direct competition? Probably not.
The thing I think they're trying to do is show that they have as much or more reach than standard TV. Plus, advertisers could re-use TV ad spots because most Xbox 360′s are connected to TVs for display purposes and in essence then the game console is simply an OTT box. This could also help advertisers cross over from broadcast TV only to broadcast and digital video ads since some of the content will be the same, say ESPN highlights or CBS shows. That means the advertisers already know the content is brand safe and reaches an audience they're interested in reaching.
According to Microsoft:
Since 2010, the advertising spending on Xbox LIVE has increased by 142 percent. Xbox LIVE Gold members in the U.S. spend an average of 84 hours a month on Xbox LIVE. Entertainment app usage has more than doubled year over year. For the first time on Xbox LIVE in the U.S., entertainment app usage has surpassed online multiplayer gaming.
That 84 hours a month, they say, is more video entertainment than gaming. I think they're full of –it because I think most gamers own the console to game, not to watch Hulu or Netflix. The fact that it's on there is great, but often there are restrictions on content that makes it inaccessible via the game console.
"With the growth of Xbox LIVE, advertisers no longer have to choose between digital and TV advertising — we're offering the impact of TV and the interactivity and addressability of digital in one platform," said Ross Honey, general manager of Xbox LIVE Entertainment and Advertising at Microsoft. "As more and more industry leaders like ESPN work with us to help monetize their content on Xbox LIVE, TV media buyers win with the ability to extend their standard TV spots to this highly engaged consumer audience."
Current Run of TV Apps advertising partners include (from Microsoft):
- AlloCine. Get all your movie news directly on your Xbox 360 with AlloCine. Check out the latest trailers, read the latest reviews, share hot trivia with your friends and find a movie close to home. AlloCine on Xbox LIVE is easy and fun.
- Crackle. Crackle is home to on-demand Hollywood movies and TV series. Watch thousands of full-length movies and TV episodes included with your Xbox LIVE Gold membership at no additional cost.
- ESPN. With thousands of live events, highlights and replays in HD, ESPN on Xbox LIVE will make you a better fan.
- GameSpot TV. (Coming Soon) A free, ad-supported video streaming application that brings popular GameSpot video content to Xbox LIVE. Content includes weekly shows, game reviews, live shows, eSports coverage, daily shows, event coverage and official game trailers. GameSpot's growing list of original content will feature prominently and will initially include "Top 5 Mods of the Week," "Now Playing," "Escape From Mount Stupid," and eSports competitions from around the world.
- Halo Waypoint. Halo Waypoint is the central hub for all things Halo. Check your stats, interact with friends and explore the Halo universe in a feature-filled destination for your favorite game world.
- Last.fm. Discover music with Last.fm on Xbox LIVE. Listen to radio based on your favorite music and tune Last.fm to your musical taste each time you love, skip or ban a track. You can even control your experience with voice commands and gestures via Kinect for Xbox360. With more than 13 million tracks, you're guaranteed to discover music you'll love.
- Manga Entertainment. (Coming Soon!) Manga Entertainment on Xbox LIVE enables fans to watch full-length episodes, movies and clips of their favorite anime from the Manga Entertainment catalog included with their Xbox LIVE Gold membership at no additional cost.
MSN and MSNBC.com. Bringing you the best news, sports and entertainment video from across the Web, 24/7, 365 days a year.
- MUZU.TV. Love music, love video. Eighty-thousand music videos at your command. Brand new releases from the world's biggest artists, Top 40, great music videos from every decade, up-and-coming bands, and the latest music news and interviews.
- TMZ. Get an all-access pass to the latest entertainment stories and videos everyone is talking about, from fully produced stories to the raw and uncut videos of your favorite celebrities with TMZ.
- "TODAY." NBC News' "TODAY," America's No. 1 morning news program, provides the latest news, entertainment and lifestyle stories.
- UFC. Get access to live pre-event videos, a catalog of videos on demand, an Interactive Fight Card and pay-per-view events in stunning HD — all together in one place.
New Run of TV Apps inventory is expected to be available in the summer 2012 timeframe in select markets.
There's certainly a large amount of content to monetize but gamers are more of the instant gratification type, will they stand for their content being preempted or interrupted for advertising? It might just push them away from using that platform for content that can easily be had elsewhere. Additionally, as a Halo player, the last damned thing I want in Halo Waypoint…is advertising for stuff that isn't Halo. It seems corporate greed is overtaking common sense at Microsoft's Xbox LIVE division in some respects. What's next? Interrupting gameplay sessions with ads every hour? That would make me simply stop playing games on the platform. It seems a slippery slope they're approaching. I'm not against them monetizing the video-only content, but when they start branching out into advertising on other types of content, it's going to get messy. Games aren't something that you can so easily interrupt without consequences.
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