'Modern Family,' 'Hawaii Five-0' on Track to Reach DVR Milestone


No TV show has ever averaged more than 3 million DVR viewers for a whole season, but both are above that mark season-to-date.

NEW YORK – No TV show has ever averaged more than 3 million DVR viewers for a whole season, but this season is on track to change that.

Two primetime TV shows, Hawaii Five-0 on CBS and ABC’s Modern Family, have been averaging more than 3 million additional viewers via DVR playback through late March, according to Media Life Magazine.

Season-to-date through March 20, Hawaii Five-0 has drawn an average of 3.27 million DVR viewers for each original episode, it said, citing Nielsen data.

Modern Family, whose DVR viewership has risen since American Idol moved into the same timeslot in January, is a close second with 3.17 million.

With this TV season nearing its end, CBS's The Mentalist and ABC’s Grey's Anatomy are also near the 3 million mark, averaging 2.96 million and 2.90 million, respectively.

DVRs are now in approximately 40% of U.S. Nielsen households, according to Media Life. And DVR viewership is making a ratings difference. Among adults 18-49, Modern Family averages a 1.6 ratings bump, while Grey's gets a 1.5 bump, it said.

DVR viewership is also in some cases playing a role in networks' decisions on which shows remain on the air. Fox recently renewed Fringe thanks in part to its strong DVR audience. The show ties with the CW's Gossip Girl as the series that gets the biggest percentage boost when comparing its live-plus-same-day and live-plus-seven-day DVR ratings, Media Life said.

"There's no question [DVRs] are changing the way we're watching TV," industry analyst Bill Gorman of tvbythenumbers.com told the New York Post about the trends. "The amount of prime-time shows watched on DVRs is up substantially over the last three years."

While networks get ratings benefits, there are also downsides. DVRs, for example, are also known for causing viewers to skip ads.
Plus, the cost of sports rights is likely to continue to rise as sports are among the types of programming that consumers want to watch live. "It's going to make sports relatively more valuable every year,” Gorman said. “The networks are going to have to pay for better ratings in higher licensing fees."