Xbox 360 gets more hours, but Wii streams more video

Media metrics firm Nielsen has released new data on how consumers use Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles—and while some of the data is self-reported by respondents, some is gathered using an equivalent to Nielsen’s “people meter” technology to gather information about console usage. Nielsen finds the Xbox 360 users aged 13 years or older spend more time per week with their gaming system than PlayStation 3 or Wii users—4.9 hours per week, compared to 4.1 hours and 1.4 hours per week, respectively—but that the PlayStation 3 beats out the Xbox 360 in terms of watching movies from discs, and the Nintendo Wii beats both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in terms of how much time users spend watching streaming video. Overall, Nielsen finds consumers’ usage of each console has unique patterns.

According to Nielsen, some 69 percent of Wii owners say they use their consoles to play games, with that figure dropping to 62 percent of Xbox 360 owners and just 49 percent for PlayStation owners. However, more Xbox 360 users tap into online games, with 28 percent saying they play online, compared to 19 percent of PS3 owners and just 12 percent of Nintendo Wii owners.

PlayStation 3 owners are more likely to use their consoles to play movies from discs, with 27 percent saying they play DVD/Blu-ray movies on their PS3, compared to 11 percent who say they watch DVDs on their Xbox systems. (The Wii doesn’t play DVDs or Blu-ray, and the Xbox 360 doesn’t support Blu-ray.)

However, the Wii is the current leader in streaming online video, with 20 percent of time users report spending on their Wii console devoted to streaming online video, compared to 10 percent of users’ time with the Xbox 360 and 9 percent with the PlayStation 3.

The figures suggest that the Xbox 360 console sees the widest variety of use from its owners (summing up game play, online video, and watching movies) as well as the greatest hours of overall use, while the PlayStation 3 succeeds as more of an all-around entertainment device (probably due to having a Blu-ray drive) rather than a strict game console. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Wii—perhaps due to its lower cost and now-disc-free Netflix client—is a surprise standout for tapping into online video as well as game play—but doesn’t seem to command anywhere near the amount of time consumers devote to the Xbox 360 or PS3.

Nielsen says it will have more data on how users of different console manage their time (and money) in their second annual Nielsen 360° Gaming Report, due in January.

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