DVRs Keep Viewers Watching Longer

Feb 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Thanks to their digital video recorders, people are spending more time watching television.
The newest data released last week by the Nielsen Co. didn’t talk about whether those TV-lovin’, DVR-usin’ viewers were watching the commercials that pay the bills for the networks and, for that matter, for Nielsen. But they did shed some light on emerging patterns that are noteworthy as the number of DVR households increases.
The report did not dwell on whether some of that extra time glued to the tube includes watching TV commercials. Most data so far has indicated that DVR users are zipping through most of the commercials in shows they play back. But the new commercial ratings adds in whatever commercials are watched during playback, so the networks get some credit for the extra attention.
Looking at total television usage in November 2007 compared to November 2005, before it measured DVR usage, Nielsen found that viewers in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic had increased their time spent watching slightly throughout the day. Viewing was 3% higher at 9 p.m., the height of prime time, and 5% higher between 11 p.m. and midnight, when younger viewers are becoming more active.
Nielsen said prime time, which is 8-11 p.m., is expanding as viewers watch the shows that air in that daypart later that evening. Playback peaks between 9 and 10 p.m. with 11% of adults 18 to 49 in DVR homes watching shows they recorded. Between 11 p.m. and midnight, 7% of those viewers are playing back shows they recorded earlier.
“Consumers are increasingly making time-shifted viewing an important part of their overall television experience, and are beginning to change traditional TV models,” said Patricia McDonough, senior VP of insight analysis and policy at Nielsen Media Research. “DVR playback has added to TV usage, particularly during the most watched hours of the day, as viewers take advantage of their ability to watch their favorite shows according to their own schedules.”
In its report, Nielsen identified three groups of viewers based on how much they time-shift.
The first group, “heavy shifters,” is composed mostly of middle-income women in the 18-49 age bracket. They record and then later watch nearly 26 hours of television, about half their weekly viewing. Males 18-34 are the least likely to fall into this group, Nielsen said.
“Medium shifters” watch a bit more television than the average person, and about a third of their viewing is time-shifted.
The third group, “light shifters,” represents almost 70% of all people in DVR households. They watch less television than the average viewer. They have incomes that exceed $100,000 and tend to own a high-definition TV. They spend only about 10% of their TV time with time-shifted programming, watching shows they would otherwise have missed.
Not unexpectedly, Nielsen found most viewers prefer to watch news, sports and movies live. Dramas, such as “House,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Heroes,” are most often recorded and viewed later, accounting for one-third of all time-shifted content.
Also heavily time-shifted are talk shows, soap operas and reality shows.
Nielsen also last week released the first data from VideoCensus, its syndicated online video measurement service.
It found that when watching video online, young women tend to watch broadcast network TV shows, while young men prefer user-generated content.
Women 18-34 account for 22% of shows streamed on network Web sites, while men of the same age account for just 12% of those streams. On consumer-generated video sites, those young men consume 27% of the streams, compared with 12% for the young women.
The viewers who watch shows online also seem to stick largely to their favorite network. Of those who watched shows on ABC.com, only 24% also streamed shows from NBC.com, 21% from CBS.com and 18% from Fox.com. The results were similarly low for viewers on the other broadcast sites, with just 4% of Fox show streamers also viewing shows on ABC.com.
On the other hand, viewers of consumer-generated media on YouTube are very likely to watch content on other similar sites. Of the viewers on MySpace, 84% also watched videos on YouTube, with high numbers also recorded for Veoh and Break.com.
“Network Web sites are destinations for fans to deepen their experience—they go to see favorite scenes, episodes and outtakes. These viewers are very loyal and engaged and the Web site is a place to become immersed in the program,” said Michael Pond, media analyst with Nielsen Online. “With shorter clips and a viral nature, [consumer-generated media] Web sites are much more about discovery, and consumers are likely to view content on more than one.”


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