Harper's Island DVR success is a myth. It was banished to Saturday due to low ratings

Categories: Broadcast TV

Written By

April 29th, 2009

harpers-island

Note: this is really just a different slice of DVR viewing info than what Bill provided earlier.  If you're exclusively interested in the Harper's Island aspects, scroll down below the table.  Our regularly published DVR data is also available.

There are many ways to look at the DVR numbers, but what I am focusing on these days is the change above the Live+SD 18-49 rating once a full week of DVR viewing is factored in.   Comparing to the live viewing numbers is interesting and in a case of a show like The Office, that almost half of the adults 18-49 who watch The Office are watching it on DVR is somewhat eye grabbing, though probably not particularly good news for NBC.  People are notorious for not watching as much advertising when they watch on DVR.

Then again, consider that what we're listing is all average program viewing for the entire duration of the show, and that according to Nielsen any commercial skipping is already factored out of the numbers (translation: even more people are actually watching these shows on DVR than we list because time spent skipping and fast forwarding through commercials is not, according to Nielsen, counted in these numbers.   To be clear, the measuring doesn't just apply to ad skipping.  If you watch 24 on DVR and skip through the "previously on 24", that time is not counted either.

While the comparisons to the live numbers are interesting,  because we don't post the live numbers anywhere but in the DVR data, and we do post live plus same day DVR viewing everywhere, measuring the Live+SD increase makes for easier comparisons.   Looked at by that metric, and in absolute terms rather than percentage increases, House got the biggest increase for the week ending April 12, 20009.  And for that week,  it was the regular edition of The Office, and not the special 8pm version that got the biggest increase:

Rank Show Net R=Repeat S=Special P=Premiere 18-49 L+SD 18-49 L+7 Ratings Increase vs L+SD
1 HOUSE FOX 5.06 6.18 1.12
2 OFFICE NBC 3.97 5.03 1.06
3 HEROES NBC 2.65 3.61 0.96
4 LOST ABC 3.84 4.79 0.95
5 OFFICE 4/9(S)-04/09/2009 NBC S 3.39 4.32 0.93
6 CSI CBS 3.76 4.57 0.81
7 BONES FOX 2.47 3.18 0.71
8 30 ROCK NBC 3.13 3.84 0.71
9 Mentalist, THE CBS 3.65 4.34 0.69
10 24 FOX 3.77 4.46 0.69
11 Fringe FOX 3.99 4.68 0.69
12 Criminal Minds CBS 3.25 3.93 0.68
13 American Idol-TUESDAY FOX 8.17 8.83 0.66
14 PARKS AND RECREATION NBC P 3.03 3.59 0.56
15 NCIS CBS 3.62 4.17 0.55
16 Southland NBC P 3.15 3.68 0.53
17 Law And Order:SVU NBC 3.31 3.84 0.53
18 HELL'S KITCHEN FOX 3.32 3.81 0.49
19 TERMINATOR: SRH CNR CHRON FOX 1.27 1.76 0.49
20 DOLLHOUSE FOX 1.39 1.87 0.48
21 SCRUBS-WED 8PM ABC 1.88 2.36 0.48
22 HARPER'S ISLAND CBS P 2.63 3.11 0.48
23 CHUCK NBC 2.15 2.63 0.48

I included a few extra shows beyond twenty to make a couple of points.  For all of CBS' talk about how great the DVR viewership for Harper's Island is, even in the series premiere it only got similar bumps to Chuck and Dollhouse.  And again, for all the talk of Dollhouse's great DVR viewership, its DVR viewership is really only great compared to its low overall viewing.   Same for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which actually got more of a bump for the week above than Dollhouse.  But even with those "top 20" style bumps, they had the lowest overall live plus seven adults 18-49 numbers of any show on the list by a relative mile.

As for Harper's Island, the reason it got moved to Saturdays, is NOT, as CBS suggests that so many people are watching on DVR that it doesn't matter where they air it.  In its subsequent airings, we don't have the Live+7 data yet  -- and neither does CBS -- but like CBS, we do have the Live+SD viewing.  Last week, Harper's Island slipped down to a 1.9 live plus same day adults 18-49 rating and that is the reason why it got moved to Saturdays.   You can pretty much count on DVR viewing being down for those weeks as well.

But the bigger story remains that DVR viewing is taking its toll.  House, and The Office got a full adults 18-49 rating point boost over the live plus same day viewing.  And it's good for press releases, and it's good for trying to make the case that House hasn't realllly slipped as much against previous years when you factor in DVR viewing, the question remains, is it a good thing?  Is it good for FOX that nearly 20% of the viewing for House happened after the day that it aired?  With advertising sales being the predominate judge of what is good,  I don't see how that can be viewed as a good thing.

DVR viewing is only going to get bigger, and the networks don't seem to have figured out a good plan for dealing with that yet.

Meanwhile, though some have claimed American Idol isn't DVR proof, relative to the field, and its size, it remains relatively DVR proof.  For the week above though, the percentage of people viewing it on DVR was only 21% for the Tuesday show and 15% for the Wednesday results show.  And over 70% of the people who were watching it on DVR appeared to be merely timeshifting and watched on the same night the show aired.

 
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