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DVR Viewing: Friend to Sarah Connor & Big Brother, but not Jericho

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March 11th, 2008

Full data for top 20 DVR viewing for the week ending 2/24 can be found here.

The LIVE+7 viewing numbers for the week ending February 24th are in (remember, the way Nielsen counts those particular beans for some reason takes well over 2 weeks - they are reportedly working on reducing the amount of time it takes) and ABC's LOST was the most watched program via DVR that week.  According to Nielsen 3.71 million watched LOST via the DVR, beating out American Idol, which had about twice as many overall viewers, but a couple hundred thousand or so less watched it via DVR than LOST.

LOST is one of my favorites, in fact, now that The Wire has said sayonara on HBO, LOST is probably my favorite (House is right up there too).  But to put this in its proper perspective, more people watched LOST via DVR than watched Supernatural period.  Supernatural is another favorite of mine, and I chalk this up mostly to the CW being one of the worst run broadcast networks in the entire history of broadcast television. 3.59 million watched Supernatural that week on a LIVE+7 basis, while 3.71 million watched LOST on a time-shifted basis.  Another 11.73 million watched LOST live.  Let's be clear, most people watch ALL shows live.  Even 68+% of LOST viewing was on a live basis, and while perhaps not the "lion's share" (for purists like Gorman, the lion's share is 75% or more), 68% is still "most people" any way you slice it.

Also, I'd note that a whole lot of the DVR viewing is so obviously just time-displacement where people are holding up 20 minutes or so before they begin viewing the shows so they can fast-forward or skip through the commercials without ever having to suffer them live.   On a live basis, LOST had 11.72, and another 3.71 million watched via DVR, but of those 3.71 million, 1.92 million of them watched it the same night it aired.  The "LIVE+SD" (same day DVR viewing) pulled in 13.65 million.  That week a little more than half of the total DVR viewership for LOST occurred the same night the show aired.

While this is really bad, bad, BAD, bad news for advertisers, it's good news for the biometric research companies charged with proving that retention of ads is still good, even when people fast forward through them.  I think in the very near future we'll begin to see advertisements that are optimized for those fast forwarding through them.

I say DVR is a friend to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Big Brother 9 more than Jericho because it seems like week in, week out, Sarah Connor had about 1.8 million viewers via DVR.  Meanwhile all three weekly airings of Big Brother made the top 20 DVR viewing, both on an absolute basis and as a percentage of overall viewing.  Jericho did make the top 20 in both categories as well, but while Jericho had 1.5 million DVR viewers for its premiere on February 12, it was down to 1.24 DVR viewers for the episode on 2/19.  It's only two data points, but it's not a good trend based on that.  By contrast, the made for tv movie: Knight Rider had almost 1.7 million DVR viewers on Saturday, February 16.

Other shows that don't seem to do great in the overall ratings that fare well in the DVR top 20? One of my favorites, Boston Legal, a show I'd never watch - Medium, a show I watched a couple of time on DVR and though was cute -- Eli Stone, and chick shows Lipstick Jungle, and Cashmere MafiaLas Vegas also pulled good DVR numbers, but I'm not sure that will be enough to bring it back.

Unscripted programming, which dominate the overall ratings don't factor as highly in the DVR results, but for the week ending 2/24 both airings of American Idol, Survivor: Micronesia, The Apprentice, and of course, all three airings of Big Brother.

Again, full data for top 20 DVR viewing for the week ending 2/24 can be found here.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 
  • http://TVoholic.com fred

    I agree about The CW sucking at their job, and it really is a shame cause Supernatural truly is a great show!

    Another bad news is that Jericho won't have a third season, I think we just get more proof of that every day now, sadly.

    BTW, and off topic, I see you love Lost and are a fan of House too, as well as a supporter of the Winchester brothers, so I just want to recommand you, if you haven't alreayd, to check out Life on NBC, when it'll be back.

    I love Supernatural, but if I have a top3 then Life is up there with House and Lost !

  • http://TVoholic.com fred

    I agree about The CW sucking at their job, and it really is a shame cause Supernatural truly is a great show!

    Another bad news is that Jericho won’t have a third season, I think we just get more proof of that every day now, sadly.

    BTW, and off topic, I see you love Lost and are a fan of House too, as well as a supporter of the Winchester brothers, so I just want to recommand you, if you haven’t alreayd, to check out Life on NBC, when it’ll be back.

    I love Supernatural, but if I have a top3 then Life is up there with House and Lost !

  • frankj

    Robert, do you think that the networks will ever embrace these numbers just as if people were viewing a show live? Or will they never give full credit because most people are fast-forwarding the commercials? And, to that end, do you think as DVR viewership continues to grow, will the networks and advertisers try to find a way to thwart that, or just abandon those numbers when it comes time to save or kill a show?

    I predict that with a show like Sarah Connor, the real gain next season will be in new DVR viewers. Most of the people I know who don’t watch the show, don’t have time to watch. They would if they could record it. But yet will FOX care?

  • frankj

    Robert, do you think that the networks will ever embrace these numbers just as if people were viewing a show live? Or will they never give full credit because most people are fast-forwarding the commercials? And, to that end, do you think as DVR viewership continues to grow, will the networks and advertisers try to find a way to thwart that, or just abandon those numbers when it comes time to save or kill a show?

    I predict that with a show like Sarah Connor, the real gain next season will be in new DVR viewers. Most of the people I know who don't watch the show, don't have time to watch. They would if they could record it. But yet will FOX care?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    I’d hazard a guess that the tv networks still have the upperhand in the advertising market and to that end will try to push DVR viewers onto the advertisers in attempt to get them to pay for them. As the DVR market grows, and more people time-shift, no doubt push back from the advertisers will grow as well. That still adds up to a “we’ll see”.

    The networks will probably wind up giving away DVRs sans monthly fees that don’t allow you to fast-foward through commercials (this is to some degree already happening).

    I already predicted above that advertisers will try to redesign some commercials to optimize for fast-forwarding. I’m 100% sure that will happen.

    For now, in terms of TSCC, I think what matters is the LIVE+SD numbers (which aren’t great) and the performance in the 18-34 (lacking data, sadly) and 18-49 demographic where it performed well enough in my opinion to be renewed.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    I'd hazard a guess that the tv networks still have the upperhand in the advertising market and to that end will try to push DVR viewers onto the advertisers in attempt to get them to pay for them. As the DVR market grows, and more people time-shift, no doubt push back from the advertisers will grow as well. That still adds up to a “we'll see”.

    The networks will probably wind up giving away DVRs sans monthly fees that don't allow you to fast-foward through commercials (this is to some degree already happening).

    I already predicted above that advertisers will try to redesign some commercials to optimize for fast-forwarding. I'm 100% sure that will happen.

    For now, in terms of TSCC, I think what matters is the LIVE+SD numbers (which aren't great) and the performance in the 18-34 (lacking data, sadly) and 18-49 demographic where it performed well enough in my opinion to be renewed.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Fred, I haven’t checked out Life though you’re not the first to suggest I should. If NBC hadn’t bailed on iTunes, I would have already bought it, but if I don’t have the flexibility to move it to my iPhone, I’m not going to pay Amazon Unbox for it. But NBC to its credit at least has all the episodes on its web site — for free, I’ll check it out.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Fred, I haven't checked out Life though you're not the first to suggest I should. If NBC hadn't bailed on iTunes, I would have already bought it, but if I don't have the flexibility to move it to my iPhone, I'm not going to pay Amazon Unbox for it. But NBC to its credit at least has all the episodes on its web site — for free, I'll check it out.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    100% agree on Robert’s point about Video On Demand being used by the networks to blunt the impact of DVRs, if they’re smart.

    If every one of a network’s shows is available free via VOD with commercials without FFing my guess is that the recording of those shows would be reduced and folks will record shows that aren’t VOD’able.

    ABC is already doing this.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    100% agree on Robert's point about Video On Demand being used by the networks to blunt the impact of DVRs, if they're smart.

    If every one of a network's shows is available free via VOD with commercials without FFing my guess is that the recording of those shows would be reduced and folks will record shows that aren't VOD'able.

    ABC is already doing this.

  • frankj

    Interesting. Well I’d agree about the DVR sans-fee thing, but isn’t a DVR box only like five bucks extra through most cable providers? I think I only pay ten extra for the HD box. I think most people will keep paying just to ditch the commercials.

    That said, I can see FOX et al trying to just push it off on the advertisers. However, we are talking about 20 to 30 percent of the current viewing audience, of major shows, taking a pass on commercials. And these are real viewers, not just some nebulous Nielson box assumptions, that come back week after week. I would imagine once this starts the advertisers may push back hard – especially if they perceive a drop-off in advertising results. In fact, to that point, I wonder if the lack of a perceived drop-off may be the only thing stopping a major re-adjustment of advertising dollars?

  • frankj

    Interesting. Well I'd agree about the DVR sans-fee thing, but isn't a DVR box only like five bucks extra through most cable providers? I think I only pay ten extra for the HD box. I think most people will keep paying just to ditch the commercials.

    That said, I can see FOX et al trying to just push it off on the advertisers. However, we are talking about 20 to 30 percent of the current viewing audience, of major shows, taking a pass on commercials. And these are real viewers, not just some nebulous Nielson box assumptions, that come back week after week. I would imagine once this starts the advertisers may push back hard – especially if they perceive a drop-off in advertising results. In fact, to that point, I wonder if the lack of a perceived drop-off may be the only thing stopping a major re-adjustment of advertising dollars?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Frank, I expect most people who are used to paying $10 a month won’t switch. But that’s less than 25 million homes out of 112 million (according to Nielsen).

    I imagine “free” with commercials will go over better with the 87+ million homes who aren’t already in the DVR universe.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Frank, I expect most people who are used to paying $10 a month won't switch. But that's less than 25 million homes out of 112 million (according to Nielsen).

    I imagine “free” with commercials will go over better with the 87+ million homes who aren't already in the DVR universe.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    frankj, It’s not entirely clear to me that advertisers are able to measure any advertising results from television advertising. I think their negotiations with TV networks over ad rates are just a sort of Kabuki theatre that plays out each year.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    frankj, It's not entirely clear to me that advertisers are able to measure any advertising results from television advertising. I think their negotiations with TV networks over ad rates are just a sort of Kabuki theatre that plays out each year.

  • Danielle

    The CW is going to go down and flames and unfortunately bring Supernatural down with it. I love that show. I need a DVR so what I watch can be counted too.

  • Danielle

    The CW is going to go down and flames and unfortunately bring Supernatural down with it. I love that show. I need a DVR so what I watch can be counted too.

  • Marc

    Do you think for cable networks Live + 7 will hold more weight? Since people seem to watch the commercials more than FF them. I think the advertisers need to take a different approach. Some great shows are being effected by DVR and it hurts them if they don't count DVR numbers. I think it is truly unfair.

  • Marc

    Do you think for cable networks Live + 7 will hold more weight? Since people seem to watch the commercials more than FF them. I think the advertisers need to take a different approach. Some great shows are being effected by DVR and it hurts them if they don’t count DVR numbers. I think it is truly unfair.

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