TV Viewers Can Be Lazy With Fast-Forwarding

You think you’re in control of your media? Better look closer,  especially when you have a TV remote in one hand and a smartphone in the other.

David Poltrack, chief research officer of CBS Corp., says there is less fast-forwarding of TV commercials in time-shifted TV programs, with only 50% of TV commercials zipped through. It’s not that TV consumers necessarily want to see TV ads; it’s that there is too much distraction when it comes to other technology, he says. That’s because many are also fiddling with smartphones in particular.

Poltrack says two-thirds of people who watch TV also watch a second screen.

Is this good news? CBS believes there could be opportunity. Poltrack says “advertising recall numbers are actually higher” now.



One should add growth of DVR penetration into U.S. TV homes has pretty much “stalled” -- around 49% of all U.S. TV homes.  CBS didn’t offer up any reason for this, but one can surely make a educated guess: Consumers are using more video-on-demand platforms, as well as a host of Internet digital video platforms.

TV advertising avoidance has been around before smartphones, or even remote controls. But TV viewers can be lazy bunch. How many times do you find yourselves actually watching a TV commercial, not realizing you could be fast-forwarding it? It takes work to hit that little fast-forwarding button.

Now you know why the likes of Replay TV -- a TiVo competitor a decade ago -- was the subject of lawsuits by TV companies. Replay TV had a function that would automatically skip entire commercial breaks. Later, TV networks negotiated hard and fast with Dish Network around its AutoHop function, which did more or less the same thing: allowing consumers to record complete prime-time schedules and skip commercials.

The lesson: Give TV viewers much to do, and they’ll default to letting lots of content -- including advertising -- run its course.

4 comments about "TV Viewers Can Be Lazy With Fast-Forwarding ".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, August 12, 2015 at 3:42 p.m.

    Interesting. The other lesson seems to be that most consumers don't loath commercials as much as ad agency people do.

    The advertising and media business convinced themselves the consumers hate commercials (an unusual kind of self-loathing seems to be activated here). But experience and reality indicates this isn't true. It's no surprise we're finding out that TiVO's are excellent for the TV business and not the death of TV that self-loathing ad agencies tried to claim.

  2. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, August 12, 2015 at 3:47 p.m.

    This is entirely consonant with recorded viewing behavior - there is that which is "lean-in" and likely to be fast-forwarded and that which is "lean-back" where either another device or sheer inertia arrests fast-forwarding.  The opportunity is to learn which programs elicit which behavior and to finally do some updated testing on TV ad awareness amid the multi-tasking, consumer-choice "TV" environment.   We need research on behavior and viewing to begin to enter the 21st century.

  3. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, August 12, 2015 at 4:24 p.m.

    Dear Wayne,

    Some TV Writers can be lazy too!

    Must be the Summertime blues.

    Take a vacation ... Soon!


    PS I fast-forwarded your critique
    so I wouldn't appear lazy ...
    or irate.

  4. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, August 12, 2015 at 7:55 p.m.

    Before the deluge of screens and electronic devices I'd watch TV while thumbing through a magazine, newspaper or catalog.  And when commerical breaks came on I turned my attention to these vehicles, but an arresting TV ad would be able to get my attention.  So print was instrumental in keeping me from switching channels or leaving the room.  This synergy brings to mind the song from "Oklahoma", "The Farmer (TV) and the Cowman (Magazine) Should be Friends".

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