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NEW YORK: Digital video recorders now make up a “substantial portion of ratings for some TV shows,” Nielsen says in its December DVR usage report. Nearly two of every five households has a DVR.

“Viewers do watch commercials on their DVRs,” the report said. “Among DVR homes, playback lifts commercial ratings by 44 percent among 18-49s after three days. Among all 18-49 year-old viewers, DVR playback adds 16 percent to commercial ratings after three days.”

Among other findings, Nielsen said DVR households watch more prime-time programming than non-DVR households. Around half of time-shifted prime-time broadcast programming is played back the same day it was recorded; 88 percent is played back within three days. Peak playback times are 9 and 10 p.m., and more than 38 percent of DVR users are over the age of 45.

DVR adoption has grown steadily over the last four years due in part to the integration of the functionality into cable and satellite set-tops. As of September, 58 percent of DVR homes were recording on a cable set-top; 40 percent on a DBS set-top, and just 3 percent on a stand-alone device.

Nielsen said industry fears that digital video recording would attenuate ad ratings were unfounded. DVR playback instead is adding to ad ratings.

“In May 2010, the average rating for a prime-time commercial minute among persons ages 18-49 in DVR households rose from 1.54 in live viewing to 2.21 three days later--a 44 percent lift,” the report said. “This degree of lift to the viewing of commercials has remained steady for several years. On a total U.S. basis, DVR playback added a 16 percent lift to the average minute of primetime commercials.”

More details are available in Nielsen’s December “State of the Media: DVR Use in the U.S.” report.