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Nets Urge Advertisers to Embrace DVR

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NEW YORK Research executives from the six major networks urged advertisers at a press conference in New York today to reconsider any conclusions they may have drawn from early studies on DVR usage as Nielsen Media Research prepares to start reporting daily DVR playback viewing for the first time next month.

NBC research and media president Alan Wurtzel said Nielsen's DVR ratings "ushers in a new era of measurement," and that the debate up to now about the impact of the DVR on commercial effectiveness "has been kind of uninformed."

The network presentation came after some big agencies, including Interpublic Group's Magna Global went on record saying it would not buy ads based on ratings that include DVR playback during the 2006 upfront market, due mainly to the reported commercial skipping by viewers.

The network executives stopped short of discussing ad sales strategies, citing worries from lawyers about anti-trust issues.

Wurtzel said the main point the networks gathered together to make is that there is some value to viewing that takes place in playback mode. "It just doesn't go down to zero," he said.

David Poltrack, executive vp, research and planning at CBS, said both the network's internal research and Nielsen studies show that the top 20 rated TV shows tend to benefit most from DVR playback. According to Nielsen surveys done earlier this year in seven local market (Houston, Tampa, Denver, Orlando, Charlotte, Raleigh and Austin), primetime programs increase their audience by an average of 4 percent.

And while early studies showed commercial skipping by DVR users reached 75 percent or more, more recent proprietary network research shows that the impact on commercial recall is "minimal," according to Poltrack. One recent recall study comparing DVR users to non-users showed the recall of the DVR users to be only 12 percent less than that of the non-users, he said.

While commercial skipping is a fact of life and recall may be effected to some degree, overall, "DVRs will enhance viewership and the amount of exposure," to commercials, Poltrack said.

Nielsen is a unit of Adweek parent VNU.