Time-Shifted Viewers Still Watch Commercials


Time was that DVRs were going to destroy TV's ad-supported model. But a new Nielsen report shows viewers watch a notable amount of commercials that they could zap, which is helping increase C3 ratings, the industry currency. 

The research shows that C3 ratings rise 16%, thanks to people watching commercials while using a DVR. That data is for 18- to-49-year-olds for ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC combined.

The commercial viewing average for the networks' live feeds -- during the April 29-May 26 period -- was a 1.78, which rose to a 2.06 for C3. C3 ratings take into account commercial viewing for a live broadcast, plus over the ensuing three days with DVRs.

There is further evidence that commercials are being watched during delayed viewing: Nielsen found that in homes with DVRs, commercials viewed in time-shifted mode boost C3 ratings by 44%. That's also among 18- to-49-year-olds for ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC combined.



Nielsen found that overall, about 50% of broadcast program viewing with a DVR takes place on the same day it is recorded. That measure indicates some people are eager to watch shows live, but are content to wait a bit to avoid ads.

DVRs are now in 38% of U.S. homes, and Nielsen says homes with DVRs consume more prime-time programming than those without the devices.

7 comments about "Time-Shifted Viewers Still Watch Commercials".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Max Kilger from simmons, December 22, 2010 at 8:53 a.m.

    This supports some research that we did awhile back that revealed that there was a positive relationship between the level of engagement in a television program and the probability of watching commercials during that program when watching the program on a DVR.



  2. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, December 22, 2010 at 9:48 a.m.

    As I've suggested time & time again, in instances where no fast-forwarding is done perhaps the viewer left the room to do something during the break & didn't bother to punch-out his peoplemeter button. However, thinking that he/she is watching the commercials is a nice fantasy. (Media agency to client (a la "Wizard of Oz"): "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!")

  3. Michael Mongelluzzo from Outcast, December 22, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.

    There was a recent study done that proves the more television you watch the less healthy you become…Fact. If you sit on the couch and watch hours and hours of tv you know what happens to the body and the brain, and this study proved it....think of an hour long drama….the reality is that it is only 40 minutes of content and 20 minutes of advertising and network/local promos…..so if you watched 3 hours of tv last night 1 HOUR was devoted to commercial interruptions. Think of all you could have done with that hour back that is healthy for your mind and body….you could have exercised, read, spent time with your family, called an old friend or helped solve some really huge economic issue if you weren’t watching commercial ads….

    DVR’s help solve that problem so why not skip ads and get thousands of lost hours watching commercials back?

    The dirty little secret here is that television commercials are actually contributing to your unhealthy behavior by adding to the time spent on the couch and a more sedentary lifestyle which leads to heart disease, obesity and this ultimatley drives up healthcare costs.

  4. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, December 22, 2010 at 3:01 p.m.

    It's a pretty human tendency to blame something else for problems that are individual responsibility. So let's take the tendency and work it out.

    Sitting in a chair browsing the internet is unhealthy - restricts motion, can be worse for your brain than DWTS, and hurts your relationships as well. So we can conclude that since the obesity epidemic surfaced concurrently with the internet it's CLEARLY the internet that is the problem. (I don't think this.)

    This research confirms what the ARF (ad research foundation) reported last year: There's no evidence that DVR's have hurt TV ad effectiveness and there's independent evidence that ad effectiveness has improved with time shifting.

    ARF's thinking is that all the DVR has done is automate what has been known about TV for decades: about a third of viewers skip all ads; about a third of viewers catch some and miss other; about a third of viewers watch all ads.

    What we find is that with a DVR, when there's that one ad that matters to someone in my family, we can now rewind to make sure we know what it says (movie release date, specifics about a product, details about the upcoming news, etc...).

    I'd also add that it's beneficial to advertisers to know that they can reach, for example, Daily Show demographic that can't watch at the typical broadcast time. That just adds to the target audience.

    When will the ad biz figure it out? The VCR was supposed to kill TV ads. NOT. Then the DVR was supposed to. It didn't happen. Now the internet is supposed to. I don't think it will happen - but it will change them.

  5. Eric Scheck from Cross Channel Digital, December 22, 2010 at 5:10 p.m.

    Why are we debating over a methodology that has been dismissed by the MRC?

  6. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, December 22, 2010 at 5:48 p.m.

    Which methodology are you referring to?

  7. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc., December 22, 2010 at 6:24 p.m.

    Once again, the elitists want to convince us that TV viewing is going down and has been for years. (It isn't, and hasn't been.) They also, because they hate commercials, want us to believe that just because one CAN skip commercials, everyone always does. (Fact is, most don't.) Fact is, people don't find commercials all that offensive.

    I'll also point out an interesting thing I've found: Often, I use time-shifting to substitute something pre-recorded for what's available live that doesn't interest me. Because most blocks are either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, if I delete the commercials, I end up short of the next program start time for the live TV. This sometimes works out nicely. Sometimes it doesn't.

    Way back in the 60s, I listened to a presentation suggesting that the most prevalent thing about people's self-reporting of their TV watching is their lying about how much of it they do. They watch more and like it far more than they admit. Even most of the water pressure drop reports proved to be myths.

Next story loading loading..