More Households Hit Pause, Study Finds DVR Ownership Contracts With Economy

Digital video recorders (DVRs), once seen as the ultimate threat for TV advertisers, may be facing some threats of their own. While the vast majority (80%) of current DVR owners plan to "always keep" the devices, some consumers have gotten rid of their DVRs, or plan to get rid of them due to two big factors: the economy; and the rampant availability of time-shifted programming via the Internet of video-on-demand services. These are among the findings of some new research conducted by Publicis' MediaVest unit and which are being published here for the first time.

According the findings, about 15% of current DVR owners, or about 6% of U.S. TV households, are currently considering getting rid of them due the financial pressures or because they are now able to access TV programming on-demand via the Internet or video-on-demand.

Between the two factors, the economy appears to be the bigger one, among both households considering getting rid of their DVRs, as well as households that already have. About two-thirds of both current households considering getting rid of their DVRs and former DVR households cited economics as their main factor, while one-third cited other on-demand programming options.



"Economics appears to trump all other factors," explains John Spiropoulos, senior vice president-media market and business intelligence at MediaVest, who oversaw the research as part of a regular series of studies under the agency's "Civic Observatory" banner.

Spiropoulos said he wasn't surprised that the economy was looming as a big factor influencing DVR ownership, but said the research is helping to illuminate the connection between finances and media behavior, not just in terms of technology ownership, but other media and lifestyle activities that consumers choose to spend their time and money on.

"What we've been trying to understand is whether there a relationship between economics and activities, such as whether people who have cut back on going to the movies are doing so because of money, or because of the availability of DVDs or other technology," he says. So far, MediaVest's conclusion is that finances are the biggest variable.

Given that finding, Spiropoulos said one big question that still needs to be answered is whether DVR ownership will pick up when the economy improves.

Spiropoulos says it's too early to trend that pattern yet, but he says his hunch is that it is likely to be a short-term blip, and that DVR ownership will resume among those households citing finances when the economy improves.

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