Nobody Watches Commercials in DVR Playback

Categories: New TV Technology,TV Advertising,TV Business

Written By

October 17th, 2007

HD DVR from Comcast/MotorolaIn all the news about the new C+3 commercial ratings, it seems like most writers have focused on the "nothing new" theme. The NYTimes TV blog even ran with the title "People Do Watch Commercials".

Not if they're watching shows on their DVR they don't.

The story that everybody seemed to overlook is that we finally have statistical proof that DVR viewers are completely lost to advertisers.

If we look at the numbers, for many shows, effectively no one who watches a show timeshifted watches the commercials.

Let's use Grey's Anatomy as an example, for the week of Sept. 24-30:

Live: 19.05 million
Live+SD: 20.09 million
Live+7: 22.97 million

C+3 commercial: 19.18 million

3.9 million DVR viewers watched Grey's Anatomy within 7 days after the live air.

Only 130,000 of them watched the commercials in DVR playback in the first 3 days after live air.

Sadly, We don't have Live+3 viewer numbers to be able to do a direct apples to apples comparison, but if you guess that 1 million people watch the show between +3 and +7, then the % of DVR viewers that watch the commercials during playback is 130,000/2,900,000 or 4.5%

In my book, 4.5% is nobody.

As the penetration of DVRs grows [it's currently about 20%] and the public becomes more accustomed to using them, this is going to be a very big deal.

 
  • Robert Seidman

    I don’t believe DVR users are *completely* lost to advertisers. They are just completely lost to the C3 numbers which do not include fast-forwarding through commercials.

    Expect to see more (and more and more) about biometrics and why the last commercial before the show comes back on is priced much higher than the other commercials in a pod (because people are scanning the content furiously looking to stop the fast forwarding before the show comes back on).

  • Robert Seidman

    I don't believe DVR users are *completely* lost to advertisers. They are just completely lost to the C3 numbers which do not include fast-forwarding through commercials.

    Expect to see more (and more and more) about biometrics and why the last commercial before the show comes back on is priced much higher than the other commercials in a pod (because people are scanning the content furiously looking to stop the fast forwarding before the show comes back on).

  • Robert Seidman

    by the way, according to a Nielsen NPower study between 1/1/07 and 5/20/07, for adults 18-54, 89% of DVR playback occurs within 3 days.

  • Robert Seidman

    by the way, according to a Nielsen NPower study between 1/1/07 and 5/20/07, for adults 18-54, 89% of DVR playback occurs within 3 days.

  • Bill Gorman

    If it’s 89% in the first 3 days, then in the example above, 3.47 million would have watched Grey’s in the +3 period with only 130,000 commercial viewings, or only 3.7% of the DVR watchers saw the commercials.

  • Bill Gorman

    If it's 89% in the first 3 days, then in the example above, 3.47 million would have watched Grey's in the +3 period with only 130,000 commercial viewings, or only 3.7% of the DVR watchers saw the commercials.

  • Robert Seidman

    it could actually be more than that. For example, if 3% average didn’t actually watch commercials when they aired *live*, this could account for an additional 570,000 commercial views + the 130K. We know for sure “most” people didn’t watch the commercials via DVR, but whether it’s 75% or 95% it’s hard to say without having our hands on the C3 data.

    Either way, as more and more move to time-shifting, it’s not good…

  • Robert Seidman

    it could actually be more than that. For example, if 3% average didn't actually watch commercials when they aired *live*, this could account for an additional 570,000 commercial views + the 130K. We know for sure “most” people didn't watch the commercials via DVR, but whether it's 75% or 95% it's hard to say without having our hands on the C3 data.

    Either way, as more and more move to time-shifting, it's not good…

  • http://www.abcradionetworks.com George Mayer

    My observation is the primary motivation to fast forward is not so much to skip commercials but to time compress the viewing experience and save time. DVR people record a lot. But the end result is the same. Heavy DVR types are not watching commercials.

  • http://www.abcradionetworks.com George Mayer

    My observation is the primary motivation to fast forward is not so much to skip commercials but to time compress the viewing experience and save time. DVR people record a lot. But the end result is the same. Heavy DVR types are not watching commercials.

  • http://yahoo.com Eva G.

    If all commercials were as entertaining as the ones for the superbowl, advertisers would have a better chance to engage the audience, and sell their product. It’s incredible how much money companies spend for 30 seconds on TV, instead of spending more on having funny, or thrilling content. I get it though, “that’s show business!”

  • http://yahoo.com Eva G.

    If all commercials were as entertaining as the ones for the superbowl, advertisers would have a better chance to engage the audience, and sell their product. It's incredible how much money companies spend for 30 seconds on TV, instead of spending more on having funny, or thrilling content. I get it though, “that's show business!”

  • richard

    Actually if you think about it, If I wasnt going to be home to see, “Greys Anatomy” but I was able to record it on my DVR, then watch it then they gained a viewer of advertisments…

    furthermore, I do try to fast forward through ads, HOWEVER time after time, I find that I forget to, or dont feel like getting the remote to fast forward through them.

    Add to that, the fact that by recording movies for playback later, I may actually watch the movie or show several times, for instance my kids shows that I record, I dont sit there with the remote to pass commericals, but we watch these movies 10 times… this means that we watch the commercials 10 time.

    This is why I think that advertisers are not realizing the fact that tivo does not hurt them, at least not as much as they think.

    Richard

  • richard

    Actually if you think about it, If I wasnt going to be home to see, “Greys Anatomy” but I was able to record it on my DVR, then watch it then they gained a viewer of advertisments…

    furthermore, I do try to fast forward through ads, HOWEVER time after time, I find that I forget to, or dont feel like getting the remote to fast forward through them.

    Add to that, the fact that by recording movies for playback later, I may actually watch the movie or show several times, for instance my kids shows that I record, I dont sit there with the remote to pass commericals, but we watch these movies 10 times… this means that we watch the commercials 10 time.

    This is why I think that advertisers are not realizing the fact that tivo does not hurt them, at least not as much as they think.

    Richard

  • tvguy

    About 60% of commercials in playback mode are skipped. That seems low, but that's what the numbers say.

  • tvguy

    About 60% of commercials in playback mode are skipped. That seems low, but that’s what the numbers say.

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