Nielsen Stats Say Half Use DVR, Half Are VOD Subs

Nielsen’s Q1 Total Audience Report is out today and as these things usually do, it presents a few exclamation points a amid a sea of simple declarative sentences.

One is that right now, DVR and SVOD penetration are each at 50%. And now almost 30% have both DVR and SVOD services.

But the number to watch, obviously, is that subscription on demand number, which has gone up 9% points since just the end of 2014, and two more percentage points since the end of last year.

The new Nielsen figures say live TV viewing is down 1% compared to last year and time-shifted viewing is flat year over year. But altogether that still adds up to 226 million users per month compared to 191 million users of apps or the Web on a smartphone and162 million users on a PC.

Total media consumption is up to 10 hours and 39 minutes, up a full hour. This cannot be good news for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, but it makes sense. Once, our exposure to electronic media ended when we went outdoors. Now, it follows us wherever we go. That’s one of the profound differences in media consumption. Couch potatoes no longer require the furniture.

The welcomed glut of media makes me wonder. Tell me I’m wrong but the failure of DVRs to achieve something like 100% penetration seems to be a real failure of marketing and that is probably because nobody except TiVo ever wanted it to succeed too much.

So it’s more like failure to be marketed. Why promote something that lets consumers skip commercials?

Half of DVR users skip commercials, a percentage CBS research guru David Poltrack insists is going down--because, he says, people are now too busy using their cellphones while watching playback that they don’t bother skipping the ads.

And now, they’re paying for SVOD services to be able to watch the same programs they could have recorded.

Man, we’re lazy!

Of note, are some stats that may explain why you seem to be the only person in your age group to have even heard of Seeso.  Nielsen says 83% of smartphone viewing, 87% of in-home PC streaming 71% of connected TV usage is done by just 20% of all users. That’s a fascinating stat that also seems to explain the unwavering love many of us have for Netflix, for just one example. It’s not just great content--it also confirms a tech-first lifestyle.

And it seems to fit with other data in this report that says 52% of the total minutes spent watching TV are contributed by just 20% of all viewers.  Those are “heavy” viewers who, other reports have said, rarely use a DVR or stream.  So, it would appear, like conservatives and liberals who find their own version of news on the Internet, the heaviest viewers via devices are, to some extent, different from the heaviest TV viewers. Each is in a different world

2 comments about "Nielsen Stats Say Half Use DVR, Half Are VOD Subs".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 28, 2016 at 9:54 a.m.

    Nielsen's estimate that SVOD penetration was at 50% during the first quarter of 2016 roughly matches our own prediction published in my "Mediology" white paper on the subject. We estimate that with the introduction of new players---mainly from the traditional TV end---such as the new ABC, Fox and NBC Hulu streaming subscription initiative-----that SVOD penetration will build to around 65% over the next two years, then level off. It's interesting to note that this Nielsen report found that 29% of all TV homes had neither DVRs or SVOD, which suggests that there is a ceiling----probably consisting of "couch potatos" who just love what the broadcast networks, local stations and basic cable is giving them----which precludes universal penetration for DVRs and SVOD. After all, if you dig what's on TV as well as its commercials, why try something new?

  2. brian ring from ring digital llc, June 28, 2016 at 4:09 p.m.

    Great article! You are not wrong about the DVR. It's a uniquely powerful and complex technology that has essentially stagnated in terms of product and marketing for a decade-and-a-half. Comcast Labs X1 DVR does have an amazing new feature that people would love, if it were known about. Here's a fun article on the topic. 

    Live Sports Aren't DVR-Proof:

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