June 3, 2007
Networks Emphasize Commercial Viewing on the DVR

One news item from this past week which I neglected to note yet here on the C3 site was the latest news on Nielsen commercial ratings, which revealed that some shows' commercial ratings, when adding in DVR viewers for three days after, actually rated higher than the initial live rating for the show itself.

Case in point was The Office. In the last week of April, the NBC sitcom obtained a live rating of 3.11. The commercial rating for live plus three days on DVR was 3.36. Obviously, the Office rating for live plus three days was substantially higher for the programming, but the spin this data takes on it makes a pretty blunt point: people still watch the commercials on DVR for a variety of reasons, and networks are now going to try and make new arguments for the inclusion of this DVR data.

More on the particulars is available here.

Again, comparing commercial ratings numbers for DVR plus live to shows that aired live only is going to work best for some of the shows most recorded on DVR, and I'm assuming that's one of the reasons to choose The Office for such an example.

This debate has been going on for some time. Look, for instance, at my post from back in December, looking at the continued problems surrounding how to figure DVR viewers.

Back in February, I wrote about Nielsen data showing a significant number of DVR viewers watching commercials, particularly if they watch the show on the same day it was recorded. I wrote of the New York Times story on the Nielsen study:

One of the reasons, and this is no surprise, is that people with DVRs still watch "about half of their shows at the scheduled start time," meaning that DVR users still watch things while they are on through their digital video recorder. If live viewing is still counted as DVR viewing, then I'm not quite as surprised at the statistics because live viewing is very much still a part of the television experience, even for people like me who have two DVRs in less than 500 square feet of space.

I don't watch much "when it's on," but there's another phenomenon that Story doesn't mention that is still important. Sometimes, in an effort to skip commercials, I wait several minutes before I start watching a program. Of course, if I miscalculate and start too early, I end up catching up to the live airing and watch the last couple of commercial breaks. [ . . . ]

I know I still stop for a creative commercial, a movie trailer, or anything that catches my eye when I'm fast-forwarding through. And I was talking to brand managers for a major company recently who emphasized the irony that people still want to be up on the latest products even as they brag about skipping commercials.

For more on the continued controversies surrounding the Nielsen commercial debate, look here.