DVR Love at the Networks

In another blow to conventional wisdom, the networks are now embracing the DVR. Yes, you read that right. The long-feared recorder, the device that was going to kill television as we know it, is now being seen as something of a savior. Why? Because we are finally measuring its effect. Instead of counting the number of people watching the show, Nielsen now measures something called “commercial plus three” — the number of people watching the commercials — within three days of airing. Well, it turns out that roughly half of the people watching recorded shows are not skipping the commercials. TV watching is a passive activity. We all knew that, but the folks at the networks just didn’t believe it and resisted the rating change.

What the new ratings show is that the DVR is increasing TV ratings — which now means the number of people watching the commercials — by 10 to 20%. In fierce network competition that’s a big number.

TV was supposed to kill cinema, the VCR was supposed to kill TV, and the DVR was supposed to kill network TV. Unintended consequences are always stronger than we think. Which is another way of saying that our ability to predict almost anything is pretty darn limited.

The details are here: DVR, Once TV’s Mortal Foe, Helps Ratings

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2 Comments on “DVR Love at the Networks”

  1. Alejandra Fitzsimons Says:

    I particularly liked the “passive activity” part

  2. Steve Says:

    I guess Orwell follows us wherever we go.


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