DVR ratings powerful on day 1


NEW YORK -- An analysis of DVR usage by Nielsen Media Research seems to suggest that there's more of a boost in commercial viewership within the first day or so.

The study was presented Thursday during a two-day national client meeting held by the New York-based research company in Orlando.

It said that there was a 35% increase in program ratings during the first 27 hours of a telecast, growing at a decelerated pace to an overall 47% increase within seven days (the length of time tracked by Nielsen's data).

Commercials gained viewership but at a slower rate: 16% within the first 27 hours among adults 18-49 in DVR households and 22% within seven days.

Most digitally recorded shows are seen by adults 18-34 within the same day. Almost all sports and news programming is seen the same day; 85% of soap operas are seen the same day; and 75% of primetime sitcoms and dramas are seen the same day.

Nielsen said that 54% of DVR viewing of primetime broadcast TV is done with more than one person watching. DVR owners tend to be younger, and have more education and higher incomes than the average U.S. household, Nielsen said. The study was done using Nielsen's NPOWER system for DVR households between Jan. 1-21.

Nielsen's DVR research is being highly scrutinized by both the networks and ad community in advance of this year's upfront negotiations. The networks are likely to push again for live plus DVR playback ratings used as the basis of programming; the ad industry and marketing community have pushed back on that.

"I don't think anybody really knows what will happen this upfront," said Brad Adgate, senior vp research at New York-based Horizon Media. "This is just three weeks in January, and when you're doing upfront estimates, you have years and years of audience figures that you can base some kind of estimate on."

Nielsen said portable video devices are now in 20% of U.S. households, but that is not enough to make a significant impact as a mass medium for watching TV. Only 4% have video-enabled iPods or another player, and 5% have video cell phones. The largest penetration for a portable video device is portable DVD players, which are in 10% of the households surveyed.

One-third of iPod owners watched at least one video on either their video iPods or iTunes during the fourth quarter of 2006, but it's far from a habit. About two-thirds of those surveyed said that it had been more than a week since they watched video on them.

The meeting was attended by about 275 people at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Orlando despite a huge snowstorm that paralyzed parts of the East and Midwest and canceled many flights. About 75 people scheduled to attend couldn't make it, Nielsen said.

Nielsen Media Research is owned by the Nielsen Co., which also owns The Hollywood Reporter.