PlayStation and Nintendo spent 2020 vying for TV game ad crown
December 26, 2020
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PlayStation and Nintendo are consistently two of the biggest gaming-industry spenders on TV advertising, and as such are often the gaming brands with the most ad impressions. That stayed true in 2020 and, remarkably, the two brands were nearly tied for impressions from January 1 through December 15: PlayStation had 4.22 billion impressions while Nintendo had 4.17 billion, per iSpot.tv.

In total, gaming brands generated 12.1 billion TV ad impressions this year, a 30.67% decline from the same period in 2019. NFL, college football, and SportsCenter were the top three programs for the year, with ESPN being the top impressions-generating network (2.27 billion impressions). And, thanks in part to Nintendo’s unwavering commitment to SpongeBob SquarePants, the popular children’s show was No. 4 in impression for the entire industry (441.9 million).

Below are the top five most-seen gaming industry TV advertisers from January 1 through December 15.

Despite not airing many ads on TV until the end of March, PlayStation was No. 1 for impressions this year, racking up 4.22 billion impressions from 31 ads that aired 11,800 times. Its most-seen commercial (583.1 million impressions) was “A Storm Is Coming,” promoting Ghost of Tsushima. The top programming driving impressions were the NFL, SportsCenter, and college football; top networks included ESPN, ABC, and Adult Swim.

Nintendo takes second place with 4.17 billion TV ad impressions, which constituted a 33.20% year-over-year increase. The brand aired 65 spots 23,590 times, and the most-seen ad (472.2 million impressions) was “How We Play: Mario Kart 8,” advertising the Switch. SpongeBob SquarePants, The Loud House, and Big City Greens were the top three shows by impressions, while top networks included Disney Channel, Nick, and Cartoon Network.

At No. 3: Xbox, which barely ran any ads on TV until Q4, ultimately generated 1.03 billion impressions from 2,258 airings of 16 spots — a 79.52% decrease in impressions year-over-year. With 235.9 million impressions, the Cyberpunk 2077 spot “Seize the Day,” featuring Keanu Reeves with music from Billie Eilish, was the brand’s most-seen ad. ESPN, Fox, and ABC were the top impressions-driving networks, while top programming included the NFL, college football, and the NBA.

GameFly.com takes fourth place with 535.2 million TV ad impressions generated by 13 spots that ran 8,070 times. “The Noon Train” was its most-seen spot, with 119.9 million impressions. Top shows by impressions included South Park, According to Jim, and Home Improvement; Laff TV, Comedy Central, and Disney XD led networks for impressions.

EA Sports rounds out the ranking, generating 434 million TV ad impressions from 1,440 airings of 15 spots. Aside from a few days in February, the brand didn’t air many ads until late August. The most-seen commercial (209.9 million impressions) was “A New Era Feat. The Spokesplayer,” featuring King Keraun and promoting Madden NFL 21. EA focused on reaching a sports-loving audience, with top programming including the NFL, college football, and the NBA, while top networks by impressions included ESPN, NFL Network, and ABC.

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