Time-Shifting Blues -- Because There's Only So Much Time In The Day

Perhaps the issue isn’t time-shifted viewing but rather available TV time itself.

Consumers have squeezed more media into their lives over the past few years. But specific TV time-shifting on a per person basis has remained much the same.

Brian Wieser of the Pivotal Research Group says the saturation point might have hit in 2009. He writes: “We have long noted that once people have DVRs or access to other time-shifting technologies their consumption of time-shifted TV does not change materially.” This includes DVR technology as well as video-on-demand services.

Wieser says time-shifted content consumption per person amounts to approximately 15% of all TV consumption for those who use the technology.  

What does change? Total U.S. TV time-shifting, with new customers being added to the pool. Nearly 59% of the U.S. population time-shifted as of the third quarter of this year, up from 53% in the same period a year earlier.

Total U.S. time-shifting activity was 9.0% in the third quarter of 2013, up from 7.8% a year earlier.



All this sounds like some sort of saturation has occurred. Do those with DVRs still watch live TV? Of course. News, sports events, and perhaps specially hyped programming of another sort gets the nod. (NBC did well last week with a rare broadcast of a live musical program, “The Sound of Music.”)

TV time-shifting saturation may be here, on a per person basis, because no matter where we get our time-shifting technology -- a box in our living room, a cloud-based service (including VOD), or an Internet-delivered platform -- we still need to do other things during our day. This includes work, sleep, eating, as well as relatively new stuff -- texting, emails, talking on mobile phones, and using the Internet for non-video activities, such as work.

Perhaps the percentage of premium TV time-shifting content might stay the same in the near term.  Someday shorter length TV/video content may be a bigger factor.

Wieser also notes that, according to Nielsen research, total TV time per person dropped --but only slightly -- 0.7% year over year. This was against slight gains in each of the four prior periods. Live viewing was basically flat year-over-year at 114 billion person-hours.

So how we are carving out more time for other new media activities from the so-called booming mobile phone and social media arenas?

More media multitasking seems an obvious point of reference, which means the effectiveness of each media platform might be compromised. Perhaps access to more media results in poor productivity at work, less sleep, weaker driving attentiveness, and lower-quality digestion of meals.

Something is suffering -- but not our ability to find and store TV shows for later viewing.

2 comments about "Time-Shifting Blues -- Because There's Only So Much Time In The Day".
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  1. Lawrence Fried from Arena Football League, December 9, 2013 at 1:25 p.m.

    Could it be that the percentage of time shifting that takes place is directly related, not to the amount of available time in a day, but rather to the percentage of programs viewers deem worth time shifting?

  2. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, December 9, 2013 at 1:26 p.m.

    There is only so much time in the day.... so the "affluent households" who have a much higher DVR penetration than the national average and therefore skip ads more often by using technology to their advantage (for the most part are the audience with the most purchasing power as well..). Why not DVR 3 hours of program content and fast forward/skip over the 1 hour of annoying commercial interruptions, watch it all in under 2 hours and do something more productive with your life with the hour you just saved instead of sitting like a load on the couch through the ads?

    Seems to make sense to me

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