A study has found that 38 per cent of sports fans spend either as much or more time playing games based on a sport as they do watching that same sport on TV.
It's a result which TNS, the company that carried out the research with EA, says highlights how effective in-game advertising can be for companies interested in sport sponsorship.
"Fans consume sports in multidimensional ways," said Robert Fox, senior VP at TNS. "Today's interactive entertainment enables fans to engage with their favourite sports on a platform that looks incredibly close to the real thing.
"When a person is engaged in the video game, there is no channel surfing, and the game is paused only for necessity. This is a terrific way for real-world advertisers and sponsors to develop incremental affinity for their brands."
In the ESPN Sports Poll study, those surveyed were asked whether they spend more time watching live sport on the television or playing a game based on that sport in a typical week during its season.
The survey showed that half of sports fans and 69 per cent of 'avid' sports fans own at least one sports videogame.
It also found that three-quarters of sports gamers are male and that the group tended to be more physically active than sports fans in general. 60 per cent of sports gamers said they had exercised or participated in a sports activity within the past week, compared with 44 per cent of sports fans.
Three out of four said that in-game advertising played a part in reinforcing a company's real-world sponsorship of that sport.
"Fans have grown to expect that the game experience mirrors the real world and allows them to be Mark Sanchez for the night. Part of the authenticity is the advertising that is embedded in the game or that is dynamically served during connected play, and includes the finer details like in-stadium and in-arena signage," said Elizabeth Harz, Senior VP of global media sales at EA.
"For sponsors looking to differentiate their brand in a crowded field, the sports gamer is influential and the messaging options robust."