DVRs add 42% more key viewers in some cases

October 16, 2008

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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Do you pay attention to DVR ads?

October 8, 2008

In my house, we don’t watch anything live if we can help it — it’s all DVR. (Okay, I lied, we do watch So You Think You Can Dance live, let the embarrassing facts be known – btw, I called Josh as the winner way before you did). In this process of going 98% DVR, I have been caught by surprise on one issue: My kids love to scan the commercials as we skip them to find ones they like. They then call out, “oh, go back, go back, that’s hilarious.” I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone back to watch the “Don’t throw away those minutes” AT&T wireless commercial and its equally witty follow-up, “Milky minutes” spot with the ultra-funny ending.

I have been amazed that my teenagers — in this generation that some feared wouldn’t pay attention to commercials ever again — keep a keen eye out for movie trailers they want to see, funny commercials they want to joke about with friends, and even products they want to buy.

Now there’s research to prove that people are still paying attention, even in fast forward mode. Great research by Innerscope Research, by the way, employing biometrics to see how people respond physiologically to the ads they are skipping on the DVR. My kind of stuff. I almost did my dissertation on using brain waves to predict whether people will like a movie or not. Well, that was one of six topics I proposed…

What about you: do you pay attention to DVR ads as you skip through shows? Am I a sucker for doing so? How does this change the model for advertising besides the obvious of keeping logos up longer?