U.S. games sales and iGaming ad spend show huge rise in Q1 2021

Stats and research from The NPD Group and Nielsen confirm that people are buying more video games and betting more on online gaming. To keep on expanding revenue and attracting audiences and players, bookmakers are dedicating an increasing amount of money in advertising.

The overwhelming sea change across the sports and media industries with respect to betting ads highlights a significant growth opportunity for both local and national television.
The overwhelming sea change across the sports and media industries with respect to betting ads highlights a significant growth opportunity for both local and national television.

Video Gaming and online betting activities have experienced huge growth over the last years globally. Of course, this trend also includes the United States market. There are two recent interesting studies to share about this phenomenon.

About gaming, The NPD Group has elaborated the ‘Q1 2021 Games Market Dynamics in the U.S.’ report. This document reveals overall total consumer spending on video gaming in the U.S. totaled US$14.92 billion in the first quarter of 2021 (January to March), an increase of 30% compared to Q1 2020. Gains were seen across digital console and PC content, mobile and subscription spending, as well as on hardware and accessories categories. Content spending in Q1 reached US$12.8 billion (+25% year-on-year). Hardware and accessories also experienced double-digit percentage gains for the quarter, increasing 81% and 42%, respectively. Some of the best-selling and most played games in the Q1 were Among Us, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Candy Crush Saga, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, Mario Kart 8, Minecraft, Super Mario 3D All-Stars,and Super Mario 3D World.

These record numbers that express elevated rates of both engagement and spending result from changes in consumer behavior driven by the pandemic, and are also a consequence of November 2020 launching of both the PlayStation 5 (Sony) and Xbox Series (Microsoft) consoles.


In parallel with the increase of video gaming sales and revenue for companies, gambling sector is revealing very positive indicators as well. An analysis made by television data collection company Nielsen has found that the money spent on advertising online gambling on local television has soared in the last three years.

Currently, US$153.6 million was spent on online gambling advertising for local spot television in Q1 2021, a staggering 1339.3% increase from the US$10.7 million spent in 2019. This can be attributed to both the increased legality and popularity of sports betting in the country in the past few years. According to BIA Advisory Services, online gambling has the potential to drive more than US$587 million into the local spot TV market by 2024. The increase in online gambling ads has been a lifesaver for local TV stations, particularly as many traditional advertisers pulled back or paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, online gambling ranks 11th among 1,200 product categories for spot TV advertising dollars, accounting for 2.1% of total share.

An increasing number of gambling ads were found on news programming, which was the most popular programming type for these ads. In 2021, 39% of gambling ads were placed on news shows, up from 31% in Q1 of 2020. The percentage of ads on sports channels dropped this quarter, down to 14% from 19% from the same period last year. The top seven advertisers in the online gambling space account for 96% of the spot TV ads in the category. What’s more, the top three are the most prolific spenders, accounting for 82%. Flutter brand FanDuel was the biggest spender, contributing US$57.7 million. DraftKings’ total came to US$43.6 million, and BetMGM rounded out the top three with US$24.9 million. “Even though gambling activities are limited to select U.S. states, advertising in this category, where legal, is increasing across the overwhelming majority of the country’s 208 designated market areas (DMAs) monitored. This spells ‘opportunity’ for local news organizations and advertising agencies alike,” Nielsen said.