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The PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One, but Microsoft is striving to keep the race close.

Microsoft has spent more than $47 million for Xbox One ads on television this year, according to data from iSpot.tv. That is around 50 percent more than Sony’s $30 million. With that increased marketing budget, Microsoft has had 5,000 commercials while Sony has settled for closer to 3,000. This shows that Sony is happily riding positive buzz and consumer word of mouth, and it also reveals that Microsoft doesn’t want to concede the multibillion-dollar console-gaming market to Sony.

Both companies declined to comment on their advertising practices.

Microsoft’s has spread its ads across 37 different networks and nearly 1,000 unique shows. Sony’s campaigns have spread to 25 networks and more than 500 shows. Top networks include Fox, NBC, and ESPN.


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Both have spent more to air their ads during National Football League games than any other program. For the Xbox One, sports make up three of its top five shows:

  1. NFL Football
  2. 2014 FIFA World Cup
  3. Talking Dead
  4. MLB Baseball
  5. Family Guy

The PlayStation 4 list is very similar:

  1. NFL Football
  2. Sportscenter
  3. Fox Sports Live
  4. Family Guy
  5. WWE Monday Night Raw

These numbers cover only ads for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One console platforms from Jan. 1 through Oct. 21. So while it’s a good way to get an idea of how each company is spending its marketing budgets, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

For example, Sony made an agreement with publisher Activision to co-promote the mutliplatform sci-fi shooter Destiny. Those Destiny ads, which we covered in a previous story, don’t count toward these figures.

Sony is getting its money’s worth

While iSpot.tv tracks how often ads air and the estimated spending to broadcast those commercials, the company’s data goes further than that. It tracks the online and social-media trends that come as a result of those airings.

When it comes to spurring “online actions,” which iSpot.tv defines as searches, sharing the ads virally, or talking about them on social media, Sony dominates.

Since Jan. 1, Sony’s PlayStation 4 ads have resulted in approximately 5.49 million online actions. Microsoft’s Xbox One TV spots only led to around 4.65 million actions.

That isn’t a huge difference except for the fact that Microsoft has spent around $17 million to earn less online buzz.

Microsoft and Sony are likely both looking at these numbers and shaping their holiday strategies around them. For example, Microsoft announced today that it will drop the price of the Xbox One to $350 until the beginning of January. This includes the Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Sunset Overdrive Xbox One bundles.

Sony, meanwhile, has kept quiet about whether it has big plans for the holidays. With the system selling well and gamers responding well to the current price, the company is likely hesitating before making any changes that might put a dent into its profit margins or its momentum.

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