AP's David Bauder has a story that suggests more people might be time-shifting than Nielsen leads us to believe. Citing a nationwide survey conducted on behalf of Comcast, 62% of people said they have used time-shifting technology before and 6 out of 10 reported owning a DVR. The basic nature of the story is that more people are time-shifting and time-shifting more than ever.
Nielsen's current estimate is 37% of the homes have DVRs (though that extends to the low 40-something percent of people).
I don't trust surveys like this much. Plus Comcast and the other operators could (but mostly won't) just come out and say "X% of our subscribers have DVRs" and take the guessing out.
Nielsen presumably forms its estimates in ways that include asking all the MSOs how many DVRs are out there. At one point a few years ago Nielsen's estimate for DVRs was low and there was a lot of public mumbling from Nielsen customers. But I haven't heard anything recently like '55% of Comcast and Time Warner customers have DVRs, how come Nielsen's estimate is so low?"
We'll have to see what Nielsen jacks up the DVR estimate to in the upcoming universe estimates for next season.
I had my first DVR like 11 years ago and thought most people would have one within 5 years. So whether 37% or 60% it's still lower than my initial forecast.
One interesting bit of data in the report:
Consider HBO's experience this season: "Entourage" averages 1.78 million viewers for the live Sunday-night debut of each week's episode. Another 1.87 million people watch a playback on DVR, 1.66 million order it later in the week on demand, and 2.3 million watch during other times it is shown on the network.