Opinion: Getting the mix just right – the main developments in the games TV channel mix

Generation Media account executive Joe Phelan looks at which television channel mixes advertisers are relying upon and whether there are any developments in tried and tested ways of reaching younger men.

We live in a time where new media opportunities become available before the current tech has had a chance to establish itself, so TV as a source of main media consumption may appear archaic. Despite growing concerns that TV is not as relevant in reaching men aged 16-to-34 (M16-34) demographic, viewing to spot advertising across all stations has only decreased by one per cent when comparing 2016 to 2015. It therefore remains a key communication tool in any games and console brand’s marketing strategy.

Looking at the games category as a whole, it is worth highlighting a 48 per cent decline in the number of M16-34 TVRs across the gaming category year-on-year, suggesting decreasing faith in the medium with advertising budgets moving elsewhere. The number of campaigns on air remained stable yet they were backed less heavily. However in terms of the channel mix that is commonly used by advertisers, there hasn’t been a change in what channels are selected. E4 was the most commonly used channel, with nine per cent (1,309) of M16-34 equivalent TVRs (Eq TVRs) recorded across the free-to-air station. 

This was down 63 per cent compared with 2015, where it made up 11 per cent of all equivalent TVR delivery across games. Top spots in key shows such as Big Bang Theory and Brooklyn Nine Nine recorded 150,000-to-200,000 impacts per spot. While the only new channel to break into the Top Ten was Comedy Central, at the expense of Film 4, the key difference was that E4 did not have such a monopoly on reaching younger men. In 2015, there was a 625 Eq TVR difference (42 per cent) between E4 and second placed ITV1, versus a 320 Eq TVR difference (33 per cent) between E4 and second placed Sky Sports 1 in 2016. Sports content remains a key opportunity in targeting younger men, with 25 per cent of the Top Ten channels being sports-focused.

Despite a commonly-used mix across the category as a whole, it is important to look at these on a campaign-by-campaign basis. Of the Top Ten products that ran in 2016, Channel 4 was the only channel to be used as a key delivery driver in the channel mix, with Uncharted and Battlefield 1 securing airtime in high-performing Gogglebox and Crystal Maze Special. When comparing mobile to console gaming there are also notable differences. The three mobile titles used terrestrial channels more frequently, adopting a channel mix that sees traditional channels making up 27 per cent of the Top Ten channels used. 

Deploying on regional airtime and using shorter time lengths resulted in a stronger allocation to terrestrial from mobile games. With console games, sport channels play a bigger role in targeting younger men should the product lend itself to that audience. 25 per cent of Overwatch’s (the highest ranking console title in terms of M16-34 Eq TVRs) Top Ten channels were sports channels, a percentage split which was also adopted by Uncharted 4, Xbox One S and Doom. The other common stations used by the Top Ten were free-to-air channels linked to terrestrial channels. E4, ITV2, ITV4, Film 4 and 4Music recorded 1,157 M16-34 TVRs across the Top Ten campaigns in 2016.

While there is a decline in the total number of M16-34 Eq TVRs across the category in 2016, TV remains a stable medium and is a vital part of the communications strategy. Although there are variations in how some advertisers tweak the channel mix, it is vital that a campaign spans all channels that convert positively to the elusive M16-34 year-old audience.

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