DVR viewing boosts ratings. So what?

I was fascinated by a recent study from Magna, Interpublic Group of Cos.’ media consulting group, and reported this week in Media Daily News. The study notes that prime‐time shows can add anywhere from 5% to 20% of their ratings from DVR playback. WTF? Ratings? The networks use ratings for one purpose, and that’s to sell advertising, which anybody with an ounce of brain matter knows nobody watches with a DVR.

The report reveals that the NBC “hit,” The Office, nets nearly one‐third of its viewing through DVRs. What good is a hit to NBC, if one‐third of the viewers skip the ads? “90210” gets the same boost from DVR viewing.

Also, DVR playback users are, on average, 10 years younger than their respective live viewers for all networks. Overall, younger 18–34 viewers account for 31% of all time‐shifted viewers. At the other end of the spectrum, adults 65 and older only represent 6% of all time‐shifted viewers.

So the inbound TV viewing audience — the 18–34 year olds — will likely never watch TV ads. That’s got to hurt in the board rooms of the networks and their advertisers, because the advertisers now need to find another way to reach those people.

The perfect storm battering media is coming from all sides, and while I suppose it’s nice to know that DVRs increase program viewing by 5–20%, the question is “so what?”


  1. product placement? as in “the message is the message”

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