More statistics the TV networks hate to hear, but it’s no surprise to see more data supporting the logical notion that people with DVRs fast-forward through commercials or skip them all together. It’s also no surprise to hear TiVo users bypassed as much as a whopping 84% of the commercial time (the Grey's Anatomy episode on May 7).
That data nugget is out as part of a TiVo campaign to champion a new metric it has created for its data services: the “pure program rating”. Though TiVo has an increasingly tiny share of the roughly 34 million homes with DVRs in them, it certainly has enough users to create some interesting data. TiVo has made a lot of top ten "pure program" rating data available -- both live and time-shifted viewing as well the most-watched individual commercials in May in its press release (here, in a PDF file).
But does it mean anything in terms of the Nielsen measurement approach? Probably not.
If the TiVo data shows people are watching less commercials than the Nielsen data shows, then the advertisers and advertising agencies will use it to champion different measurement and/or reporting at Nielsen. If the TiVo data shows people are watching more commercials than the Nielsen data than the TV networks will use it to champion different measurement and/or reporting at Nielsen. The more likely outcome seems to be that the TiVo data tracks reasonably closely with the Nielsen data and merely offers more granularity. In that instance you can count on nothing much changing at Nielsen.
For now, it’s quite likely that the advertisers and the advertising agencies will just use it as an additional data point in the “we don’t want to pay for DVR viewers!” campaign. They want to pay as little as possible, even for ads that are watched on DVR. The networks, of course, want the exact opposite and spend a lot on research that shows commercials are still being viewed via DVR – or at least leaving an impression -- “our biometric research showed your ad got focused on even during the fast-forwarding!”
More granularity is good, and I don’t blame TiVo for trying to sell it, but my guess is that among the data buying customers at the networks, advertisers and advertising agencies won’t want to pay a lot extra for it, even if it sounds good. I remember well the TV networks wanting out of home measurement, but that a.) the advertisers weren’t interested in paying more for those additional eyeballs and b.) the TV networks weren’t that interested in the data when they caught wind of how much it was going to cost to produce.
With DVR viewing there will be constant negotiations going on between networks and advertisers and Nielsen will be in the middle of it. So far, none of the data we've ever seen favors the networks -- unless you believe that you should pay full frieght for high biometric engagement, even though the commercials are being fast forwarded through. Unfortunately, for the TV networks even there the data only favors one spot per commercial pod, the one that is right before the show resumes and DVR users are intently focused on when to press "stop" and not miss any of the actual program.