Contrary to earlier claims that Digital Video Recorders would have an adverse impact on ad-supported television, executives from major networks released clear evidence showing that homes with DVRs watch significantly more television, and could increase the average primetime audience for a program by an average of 4 percent.
In a presentation to reporters, the networks highlighted multiple reports showing that DVR households watched 12 percent more television, and that they are exposed to a greater number of commercial impressions. The results of these studies, though early, confirm what the networks' own proprietary studies have found all along: DVRs increase the viewing of television's most popular programming, as well as commercials.
Among the highlights presented:
-When factoring in DVR usage, primetime programs increase their audience by an average of 4 percent. This figure is based on a study conducted by Nielsen that examined DVR usage in seven major markets, including Houston, Tampa, Denver, Orlando, Charlotte, Raleigh and Austin—regions with large enough samples to report DVR usage.
-Homes with DVRs averaged 5.7 hours of television viewing per day, compared to 5.1 from homes without DVRs. This represents a 12 percent increase in the amount of time spent watching TV.
Additionally, the networks' own proprietary research found that DVR viewers do pay attention to commercials, and that they show high levels of awareness/recall on commercials they have fast-forwarded. Among the findings:
-58 percent of DVR users pay attention to commercials even while fast forwarding
-53 percent of DVR users have gone back to watch commercials they mistakenly skipped.
What these numbers show is that when added together, the audience levels for live and played back television represent a net gain for viewers of commercials.
Finally, the studies also showed that:
-The 10 most played back programs on DVRs were network television programs:
1. Desperate Housewives
5. American Idol
6. The Apprentice
9. The O.C.
10. Grey's Anatomy
(Nielsen-TiVo Study May 2005)
-In DVR households, the share of network television viewing was significantly greater than the average total viewing audience reported by Nielsen
-DVR penetration in US households now stands at 8 percent, representing 11.4 million viewers. By 2010 that number is expected to grow to 39 percent (or 45.9 million viewers).
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