Nielsen Research Sheds Light On 'Live' Vs. Delayed Viewing

Reality-competition shows get the most “live” viewing, while animated shows get the least of any genre of prime-time programming, according to Nielsen research unveiled Tuesday.

The research is part of a company effort to better assess the “total” audiences for individual TV shows beyond their seven-day time frame.

Nielsen’s “total audience initiative” is “designed to look at individual pieces of content and determine how consumers are getting to them — either through live TV, time-shifting through a DVR [or] some form of VOD,” said Glenn Enoch, senior vice president of audience insights for Nielsen. 

Nielsen studied the ratings for viewers 18-49 for programming in five genres from November 2015 through March 2016. The five kinds of programming were reality-competition shows, serial dramas, episodic dramas, sitcoms and animated comedies.



(The research company won’t say which specific shows or networks they studied.)

Of the five genres, reality-competition had the highest level of “live,” time-period viewing, at 54%. Some 39% of reality-competition viewing was via DVR and 7% was VOD -- most of which was done within seven days of a reality-competition show’s first airing.

Or to put it another way, 88% of reality-competition viewing took place in seven days or less.

By contrast, only 51% of viewing for prime-time animated comedies, such as “The Simpsons,” took place within the first seven days, the Nielsen study showed. Plus, 26% took place in days 8-35 and another 24% took place between day 36 and day 118.

Serialized dramas were the only genre that came close to reality-competition’s level of live-plus-7-day viewing -- at 76%, Nielsen said. For the serial dramas, 37% of viewing was “live,” 42% was via DVR and 21% was via VOD, Nielsen said.

Nielsen officials explained that their “total content ratings” initiative is aimed at measuring audiences for individual TV shows, regardless of the platform or platforms they use to watch a show.

“We will be able to understand the audience [comparables] across time, across all platforms, and provide an unduplicated reach,” said Kelly Abcarian, senior vice president of product leadership for Nielsen.

“That’s what total content ratings is really bringing to the marketplace and to both sellers and buyers,” she said. “In a world where cross-media planning is one in which everyone is wanting to understand audiences, this is the way we’re shedding light [on audiences] in a very comparable way across all players."

Abcarian said that applies to a digital-first player or a traditional media client, and across all platforms, regardless of the set of metrics that traditionally are used in one channel vs. another. The goal is to "bring the data together so that both the buy and sell side can understand how to plan and sell on audiences across time, programming and sites.”

1 comment about "Nielsen Research Sheds Light On 'Live' Vs. Delayed Viewing".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 5, 2016 at 3:08 p.m.

    Interesting information, especially about SVOD usage.

    It should be noted that such findings are not going to be typical of TV in its totallity---including cable, syndicated as well as local station fare and certainly not across all dayparts. Indeed, by focusing on adults aged 18-49 and, probably, limiting its analysis to the broadcast networks' primetime shows, Nielsen is taking those shows and that demo that is most likely to delay their viewing and do so via SVOD. An average adult allocates something like 10-12% of his/her time to news content. How much of that is delayed many days or seen later on SVOD? Same question applies for sports, game shows, talk shows, etc. My point is that these findings, while welcome and interesting do not tell us much about TV, just a small and, frankly, atypical, slice of it against a younger oriented demo, not all demos. I'd like to see Nielsen give us a look at the overall averages for a typical adult's five hour a day TV exposure to serve as a benchmark against the 18-49 primetime data. Nielsen must have the information. How about it, Nielsen?

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