Game consoles credited with video streaming explosion

More people than ever are watching Netflix and other video streaming services from their game consoles.

According to a new report from Nielsen, the average Wii user now spends one-third of his or her time watching online video while using the console. Only 63% of Wii usage is devoted to playing games – that number was 69% last year.

For the PS3 and Xbox 360, it’s not such a clear distinction because they offer myriad other features and functionality. But the one trend that is consistent across the board is increased usage of online video services.

As you would expect, for the Xbox 360 and PS3, this means fewer people are spending time watching DVDs or Blu-ray Disc movies.

It also appears to be chipping away at the “Other” category. In last year’s Nielsen study, it found 11% of PS3 and Xbox 360 usage was spent doing miscellaneous features like browsing the Web, listening to music, looking at pictures, etc.

Now, though, as video streaming becomes the defining “non-gaming” activity for consoles, only 4%-5% of console time is spent messing with the other miscellaneous features.

The PS3 is the console that is least used for actually playing video games. Only 54% of PS3 owners’ time is spent playing games, while 20% of it is spent watching streaming or downloaded video and 22% goes to watching DVDs or Blu-rays.

For the Xbox 360, 67% of the usage goes to gaming, the highest among all three consoles. 19% is spent watching online or downloaded videos and 9% is attributed to watching DVDs.

In other words, there are definite numbers to prove that game consoles are becoming complete entertainment machines and not just nerdy game devices anymore. This may be the biggest trend of the year and will no doubt only continue to grow in 2012.