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DVRs Change TV Ratings Equation

  • Variety, Wednesday, September 30, 2009 10:30 PM

Here's a twist: TV's fastest-growing network is turning out to be the DVR. During premiere week, viewers cranked up their DVR use, helping to bolster sampling for several new series. "In a world where it's difficult to get your product sampled, the DVR is an enabler," says David Poltrack, CBS chief researcher.

DVRs extended prime time both earlier and later during premiere week. That means some viewers were consuming four or five hours of prime time fare a night instead of the usual three. Overall, that may have contributed to the strong launches of several new shows. For Monday through Thursday last week, DVR playback during prime-time hours was up around 36%, and up 34% during 11 p.m. newscasts and 27% during late night.

But as DVR penetration -- currently at 33% of TV households -- continues to grow, it also means both the networks and local stations are increasingly competing with pre-recorded fare as viewers opt to avoid live TV. In some cases, that means nets are competing with programming from their own lineup that aired earlier in the week or night.

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