A recent Xbox One ad featuring actor Aaron Paul.
A recent Xbox One television commercial featuring actor Aaron Paul from the series Breaking Bad.

JULY 3, 2014 • During the first five months of 2014 Sony Computer Ent. America and Microsoft Corp. combined spent $93.7 million to advertise their latest consoles on U.S. television, as reported in the Wall Street Journal based on estimates provided by research firm iSpot.tv. Total video game television advertising spend for the period was $226.5 million. Between the two console makers Sony spent $59 million to support the PS4 versus Microsoft’s $34.7 million outlay behind the Xbox One. The top five networks for each of the console makers were Fox, ESPN, Comedy Central, Fox Sports 1, and TNT for Sony; versus Fox Sports 1, Fox, Comedy Central, AMC and TBS for Microsoft.

CLICK BRIEF ICON to register to get our latest Complimentary Brief

Impact: Three thoughts struck us at seeing these television advertising figures. First, with the trend lines already showing the PlayStation 4 moving ahead in sales last January, we would have suspected that Microsoft to be the leader in TV ad buys this year in an attempt to equalize the situation for the Xbox One. Second, given that we are early in a new console cycle, it is somewhat surprising that both firms did not account for more of the total dollars spent by the industry during the first five months of the year. Third, much has been said in recent years about reaching today’s consumers requiring less traditional advertising yet these are fairly substantial marketing outlays that buck that trend. A great deal of these ads are running around major sports events to reach core gamers, which is another indicator to us that those same core gamers are driving much of the spending on new consoles. That Sony is spending more dollars is another indication of how committed the company is to pad its early lead in sales. It is a shot directly across Microsoft’s bow, and we are curious how Redmond will respond in the coming months. To be honest, $94 million for early 2014 seems like a lot of money, but the outlay from both firms needs to be higher to build the kind of general awareness required. Current marketing allocations have been underwhelming.