DVRs add 42% more key viewers in some cases

The New York Times did a piece this week on Nielsen’s release of adjusting ratings that take into account DVR viewing. I love this last paragraph paraphrasing Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC:

[Alan] called the DVR the “ultimate frenemy” (friend and enemy) because it increases overall viewing and demonstrates that viewers are engaged enough with shows to plan ahead and record them, but “the enemy part is that there is still a lot of commercial avoidance.”

So true, so true. What’s interesting is that he’s now open to the friend part of the Frankenword “frenemy.” Remember, just two years ago, people like Alan thought DVR was the ultimate evil. We still have former clients of Forrester who refuse to engage with us because we had the audacity to (correctly) forecast that DVR use would be near 30% by now. Gee, we’re sorry we hit that nail on the head. We’ll try to be wrong next time. [yeah, you know who you are]

The ratings numbers from Nielsen revealed that hot, upscale shows like House, Fringe, and Heroes, all added an additional chunk of viewers via DVR.

House, for example, added 3.7 million additional viewers. Among 18-49 year olds, Heroes went up 42 percent. That means nearly a third of its viewers in that target age range were watching via DVR.

And let’s not forget the viewing that’s happening online. Remember that? It’s even easier to do than watchingvia  DVR. And in a recession, online viewing seems a lot cheaper than paying for a DVR. For shows like Fringe or Heroes, I could imagine that 50% of all viewing is now happening on-demand, whether via DVR or Internet. Here’s a prediction for you:

  • Online viewing will account for more views than DVR viewing by year-end.

Two factors will drive this. First, more people can and do watch TV shows online than have a DVR. Second, it is less of a hassle — there’s nothing to program, no disk to keep uncluttered with episodes of Suite Life of Zach and Cody (sorry, went on a personal tangent there).

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