Game console streaming is leveling up

Gamers are listening more than ever on Spotify. Here’s how brands can score big with them.

When Activision’s Grand Theft Auto franchise hit the scene in the late ‘90s, it changed the way gamers experienced music while playing. Players fell in love with the series' unique radio stations and use of licensed songs, allowing them to create their own winning soundtracks.

Now, over 20 years later, the growth of connected consoles and digital streaming continues to change the way people experience music while gaming. Let’s look at what’s leveling up game-console streaming among Spotify’s Free users — and what brands need to know.

Connected gaming tops the leaderboard

Since 2010, the number of connected-console gamers doubled to 91 million in 2019 in the US alone.1 Because of this growth and the rise of cord-cutting, game consoles have become the main media and entertainment system for many people. Consoles are being used for more than just gaming, with 55% of consumers’ time spent on their console being non-gaming activities.2

This trend shows no sign of powering down. By 2024, the number of connected-console owners is expected to reach nearly 100 million in the US.3

Ready player one: Streaming audio

With more connected game consoles in more homes, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing game-console streaming rates increase on Spotify. Since last year, there’s been a 34% increase in people who listened to Spotify Free through their game consoles.4 And their total monthly time spent listening to Spotify through their consoles grew even faster, at 81% year-over-year.5

  • 52%

    of Spotify gamers...

  • 53%

    of Spotify gamers...

Music continues to be essential for gaming. In fact, 52% of Spotify gamers say music is a large part of their gaming experience, and 53% say they like to play their own music in place of the video game’s soundtrack.6 Now, listeners have even more ways to personalize their winning soundtrack with streaming audio. Over the last year, streams of Spotify’s gaming-related Moments from Free users have increased by 14%.7 Spotify listeners are also tuning into thousands of gaming-related playlists, including Spotify-curated playlists “Top Gaming Tracks,” “Power Gaming,” and “Hip Hop Controller.” Gamers are also more likely to seek out new content. Spotify users who stream on game consoles are 2X as likely to listen to Release Radar and 1.6X as likely to listen to Discover Weekly compared to users who listen on other devices.8

  • 2x

    More likely to listen to Release Radar.

  • 1.6x

    More likely to listen to Discover Weekly.

Podcasts are also a critical part of the gaming soundtrack. In the past year, the number of Spotify Free users who listened to podcasts via their game console grew 148%,9 while their total monthly time listening to podcasts climbed, too. For many people, gaming is the perfect moment to catch up on the news, or hit play on the next Your Daily Podcast pick.

But if gamers are focused on staying alive or nailing that perfect combo, are they really paying attention to anything else? Short answer: Yes. In fact, over one in three (39%) say they notice advertising while streaming music during their gaming sessions.10 And the more people play, the more they pay attention to those ads. In a recent study, we found that Gen Z gamers who play every day are 1.6X more likely to say they pay attention to brands mentioned in their gaming sessions than gamers who don’t play as often.11

  • 1.6X

    More likely to pay attention to brands

How brands can enter the game

More connected devices, like gaming consoles, means more time spent streaming audio. As the video game industry grows at a breakneck pace, there’s enormous potential for brands to reach this leaned-in, attentive audience. Here’s how brands can level up with gamers on Spotify.

1. Focus on affinity, not demographics. For a long time, “gamers” was shorthand for young and male — not so anymore. As of 2019, 44% of Spotify Free gamers are female.13 Beyond that, the gaming audience covers a wide array of interests and affinities. Fashion, food, and sports brands are already reaching them through specific games like Fortnite and Animal Crossing, meaning there’s major opportunity for brands in all categories to tap into this varied audience.

2. Think beyond millennials. Back to that “young” part. Since last year, adults from 35-44 increased their monthly game console streaming time by 47%, while adults 45 and older increased theirs by 59%.14 If you’ve relied on traditional channels to reach this demographic, it might be time to factor the streaming-while-gaming moment into your digital marketing plan.

3. Help them discover something new. Yes, gamers are focused on scoring when they’re deep in play mode. But they also use time spent gaming to learn and discover new things, whether from podcasts or from playlists. In fact, one in three (33%) console streamers say they often discover new songs and artists while gaming.15 This is a great time for brands to show up with messages that help fuel discovery.

1 eMarketer, February 2020, US 2 Nielsen Games 360 US Report 2018 3 eMarketer, February 2020, US 4 Spotify Internal Data, April 30, 2020, Global Free Users 5 Spotify Internal Data, April 30, 2020, Global Free Users 6 Spotify Gamer Streaming Study, July 2019 7 Spotify Internal Data, May 2020, Global Free Users 8 Spotify Internal Data, Last 30 days from Apr 3, 2020, Global Free Users 9 Spotify Internal Data, March 2020, Global Free Users 10 Spotify Gamer Streaming Study, July 2019 11 Source: Spotify Gamer Streaming Study, July 2019, A18-24. 12 Source: Spotify Gamer Streaming Study, July 2019, A18-24. 13 GlobalWebIndex 2019, Spotify Free Users, Global 14 Spotify Internal Data, March 2020, Global Free Users 15 Spotify Gamer Streaming Study, July 2019

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