A new study from research firm TNS and ESPN said that 38 percent of sports video game players spend at least as much time playing sports video games as they do watching the same sport on TV during its season.
The study argued that advertisers interested in sports content are missing a "big opportunity" if they're not taking advantage of in-game advertising. The study was conducted in conjunction with sports game leader Electronic Arts, home of several sports franchises that utilize in-game ads.
These in-game ads, the study said, are viewed by "sports gamers," three-fourths of which are male. Half of these sports gamers are between 18 and 34 years old, they are mainly single with disposable income, and are "more physically active than sports fans in general."
TNS SVP Robert Fox said in a statement, "Fans consume sports in multidimensional ways. Today's interactive entertainment enables fans to engage with their favorite sports on a platform that looks incredibly close to the real thing."
"When a person is engaged in the video game, there is no channel surfing, and the game is paused only for necessity. This is a terrific way for real-world advertisers and sponsors to develop incremental affinity for their brands."
EA's SVP of global media sales said that in-game ads in sports games adds to the authenticity of the virtual environments. "For sponsors looking to differentiate their brand in a crowded field, the Sports Gamer is influential and the messaging options robust."