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James Hibberd

Poltrack on Commercial Ratings

July 18, 2006 12:57 PM

David Poltrack. CBS Corp.’s chief research officer and all-around broadcast industry guru, is kind of like Al Gore.


Like the former vice president, Poltrack is a master of the PowerPoint presentation. But instead of talking about melting ice caps, Poltrack walked a couple dozen journalists through an explanation of the “new advertising model” Monday afternoon during The CW’s press tour day.


The message was classic Poltrack -- for years he has been downplaying the early prognosticators, particularly The New York Times in 2000, who suggested a rapid proliferation of DVRs would kill the current TV ad model. Not only is DVR penetration much slower than first thought, the use of TiVo-like devices is helping to increase TV viewing, he argued.


The big beneficiary of the DVR’s is -- surprise! The big four networks, including Poltrack’s company CBS. While ratings service Nielsen Media Research is set to offer ratings for commercials on a daily basis, Poltrack pointed out that information has been available on special order for years. Either way, the news is good for broadcasters -- despite remote controls, despite DVRs and despite people’s need to go to the bathroom, there’s only a 5 percent drop-off from program viewing to commercial viewing in prime time in adults 18 to 49. For ad-supported cable, it’s 11 percent.


Poltrack’s presentation explored a number of other changes coming, including the extended away-from-home measurement of college students, an age group Nielsen has not done a great job of rating, but the basic message was clear: The marketing value of TV advertising is reinforced by all these new platforms, while the advantage of broadcast over cable is enhanced.


In the meantime, I’m skipping through a few commercials to watch the “Rescue Me” episode I TiVo’ed last week.











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