Forward thought: Ads A-OK on DVRs


A study by Palisades Media Group suggests that despite the growth of digital video recording devices, DVRs are not drastically affecting the viewing of commercials, even time-sensitive or seasonal messages.

The study by the Santa Monica-based media agency determined that more than half of primetime programs recorded were played back within the same day of recording. By the end of the next day of airing, nearly three-quarters of all programs have been viewed.

According to the study, time-shifting habits increase viewing more than 16%.

The study was conducted from Sept. 24-Oct. 21 by NPower, which like The Hollywood Reporter is a unit of the Nielsen Co. The survey polled more than 8,000 television viewers.

Fewer than half of the people watching a DVR recording said they fast-forward through ads, meaning that DVR use does not significantly impact ratings. "Nielsen estimates DVR penetration to be at 20%, up 12% in January of this year," said Susie Thomas, senior vp director of research and insights. "While this is a good size increase, the impact on viewership remains minor."

Thomas said that there are program-to-program fluctuations, but "overall DVR usage is not dramatically cutting into live viewing." She added that among the top 10 programs most likely to be recorded, CBS' "Survivor: China" measures as high as 58% watched on the same day of airing, compared with 27% for CW network's "Reaper").

Thomas said the findings should come as good news to advertisers concerned with time-sensitive commercials for movie openings and holiday sales. "The impact is not at a critical mass yet. While as many as 55% are playing the program back the same day, only 20% have a DVR in the first place," she said.

Gregory Solman West Coast editor at AdWeek.