Sony and Partner Aim for High-Def Video Programming on PS3

Advertisers looking to target the male, 18- to 35-year-old demographic often look to video games or content sites about video games. Now there’s a hybrid that blends the two on the Sony PlayStation 3 console.

Future U.S., a print and Web-based publisher of video games, technology, and lifestyle content and Sony Computer Entertainment of America formed a partnership to produce Qore: Powered By PlayStation Network, a downloadable, rich-media program delivered monthly in high-definition. As Future prepares for launch on Thursday, the ad units are being sold as a premium CPM product. Burger King and Universal Pictures signed on as sponsors. Activision, Konami, and Codemasters are among the launch advertisers.

Demand for the male gaming audience is a strong attractor for advertisers. “We are getting greater [CPMs] than anything we’ve achieved on the Web,” said Jonathan Simpson-Bint, president of Future U.S. He sees the promise for advertisers as a breakthrough versus online banners, “[Qore is a] considerably more compelling offering than much of what is out there currently.”

Qore draws on the talents of Future’s editorial staff. “It’s not a magazine, not a digizine,” Bint said. “The nearest metaphor for it would be a magazine format TV show, but it’s somewhat beyond that as well.” The show is roughly two hours of downloadable content delivered to the PlayStation 3 console. The host reporters discuss video game and industry-related segments. Content includes playable demos, game previews, strategy guides, and developer interviews.

Gamers navigate through the program menu using the PlayStation 3 game controller, rather than a TV remote. Programming is also in high-definition, matching the console’s resolution. That means game footage, walkthroughs, and demos are viewed in the same resolution as games are played. “It brings the whole thing to vivid life in no way that other media can, it’s beyond TV,” Bint said.

For the first issue, available for download on Thursday, advertiser Activision bought a placement to promote “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith,” Konami will promote “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots,” and Codemasters ads will serve two titles, “Grid” and “Overlord.” And, Universal Pictures will promote the upcoming film “The Incredible Hulk.” The film studio’s spot features a trailer with extra elements that make it fit with the Qore player.

Universal Pictures placed a whole film trailer as an ad, according to Bint. “I think it is being used in movie theaters, but the way the trailer is being presented is unique to Qore… there are other bits running with it.”

The specific format of the Universal Pictures ad and other ad units wasn’t specified by Bint. The rich media units are still undergoing development. PlayStation 3 is a walled garden, and ad creative cannot direct users to a Web site. Ads may have the ability to collect user information such as an e-mail address or a mobile phone number in the future, however, or have further interactivity.

Advertising for each episode is limited to five spots. Formats include trailers, interstitials, and contextual ads. Ads are typically video, and interspersed throughout the segments.

Qore competes with video game shows on TV channels including Comcast channel G4, and similar shows on the Internet. However, the advantage Future has is with the delivery and exclusive partnership. Sony has agreed to provide exclusive game content including footage and game demos, as well as behind-the-scenes access to games it creates in-house.

From the delivery standpoint, gamers can stay where they are to watch the program. “It’s within the container of the PlayStation,” said Bint. “Gamers toggle between the PlayStation game experience and the PlayStation media experience… that’s a unique experience, a different thing. ”

Gamers navigate through the program menu using the PlayStation 3 game controller, rather than a TV remote. Programming is also in high-definition, matching the console’s resolution. That means game footage, walkthroughs, and demos are viewed in the same resolution as games are played. “It brings the whole thing to vivid life in no way that other media can, it’s beyond TV,” Bint said.

Qore is an ad-supported program. The program is available through the PlayStation 3 marketplace, and each episode is $2.99. There is an annual subscription rate of $24.99 for 13 episodes. Payment is through the PlayStation Members wallet.

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