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Watching online video via game consoles grows in popularity

Greater availability of Netflix, Hulu, and similar services cited for the rise in streaming video through the Xbox 360 and other gaming consoles, according to Nielsen.

Microsoft's Xbox 360.
Microsoft's Xbox 360

People are increasingly using their game consoles for more than just playing games.

Thanks to the greater availability of Netflix, Hulu, and similar services, streaming videos via a game console has grown in popularity over last year, according to a study from Nielsen released yesterday.

Surveying more than 3,000 people in the U.S. in October, Nielsen found that video streaming now accounts for 14 percent of all time spent on Microsoft's Xbox 360, 15 percent of time spent on the Sony PlayStation 3, and 33 percent spent on the Nintendo Wii.

As a whole, time spent on game consoles has also grown. Looking at metered data, Nielsen saw a 7 percent rise in user time during the second half of 2011 compared with the first half.

But each console still differs in the type of activity that occupies users. Xbox 360 owners spend 34 percent of their time in online gaming, PlayStation 3 users spend 22 percent watching DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and Wii owners eat up around 55 percent of their time playing games offline.

Microsoft recently beefed up its Xbox 360 to offer more streaming and video-on-demand options, including a redesigned Netflix app and a Kinect voice search. The company is promising to add more video later this month and early next year, including Crackle, Vudu, YouTube, HBO Go, and MLB.TV.