USA Network is getting its game on in a big way.
The "characters" network’s three-month-old Game Lounge online casual gaming site featuring Monk Shui and Psych Concentration is generating 30 million page views a month – half of USA’s usanetwork.com traffic, according to network executive vice president of marketing, digital and brand strategy Chris McCumber.
Launched this past December, the 22-game lineup is averaging 1 million unique views and has attracted 150,000 registered users who have created personal avatars to play the various games.
“It’s gone well beyond our expectations,” said McCumber. “We’ve attracted thousands of viewers who are dedicated to gaming.”
McCumber says the success of the site – which skews heavily female – dispels the notion that video gaming necessarily means young males playing violent-oriented games like the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
“There was a misconception that gaming was relegate to male-targeted, shoot ‘em up games, but when you’re talking casual games it’s a completely different audience – it’s more female, and on top of that it indexes a lot closer to what we have on air,” McCumber said. “For us, developing Game Lounge was a no-brainer.’
The site has also drawn sponsors such as discount store Big Lots and telecommunications company AT&T, according to McCumber. He added the network is talking to other advertisers about creating sponsorship opportunities around specific games.
“It’s a great story from a brand and advertiser integration standpoint, and obviously from a traffic standpoint,” he said.
Jessie Redniss, vice president of digital for USA Network, says character-driven games such as Psych Concentration are driving traffic back to the show’s title pages on the site. For example, the Monk Shui game, in which players try to put misplaced items in Monk’s home in their proper place, has driven 1.5 million unique viewers over 10 million page views to the network’s official Monk site since January, a whopping 240% lift over the same period last year.
McCumber said the network may add several more games to the lineup and is expected to announce several new enhancements next month during the network’s upfront presentation. The network, however, will not look to maximize revenue by offering a subscription package.
“Our brand is all about “Characters Welcome,” and we don’t want a barrier to entry to come in and experience our brand,” said Redniss. “We want to keep it ad-supported so that people can come in and experience the full aspect of what the Game Lounge is without having to sign up for anything.”
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.