Nielsen on the DVR watch

Post-airing ratings focus of study

An analysis of DVR usage by Nielsen Media Research suggests that there's more of a boost in viewership within the first day or so of recording.

The study was presented Thursday during a two-day national client meeting held by the New York-based research company in Orlando. It was done using Nielsen's NPOWER system for DVR households from Jan. 1-21.

The analysis noted that program ratings increase 35% during the first 27 hours of a telecast, growing at a decelerating pace to an overall 47% increase within seven days (the length of time tracked by Nielsen's data).

Viewership of commercials gained as well but at a slower rate: a 16% rise 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, 85% of soap operas and 75% of primetime sitcoms and dramas are seen on the day the shows are recorded.

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.

Nielsen's DVR research is being 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. "(The study looked at) 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, still 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 2006 fourth quarter, 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 in Orlando despite the 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.