DVRs are changing the way that Americans watch TV, and networks are paying attention. Advertisers currently pay networks based on how well their shows do in C3 ratings—which is how many viewers watch a program’s commercials up to three days after its original broadcast. But now, The New York Times reports, thanks to the popularity of the DVR, networks are tracking shows up to a week after they first air, and while it’s giving some shows on the brink of cancellation a second chance, advertisers aren't interested in the extra data.
One of the resuscitated programs is Fox’s Fringe, whose 1.7 rating (about 2.24 million viewers in the 18-to-49-year-old range targeted by Fox) is low enough to make it a candidate for being axed. But when the following week’s worth of DVR playback is added to the data, the rating increases to 2.5 (about 3.3 million viewers). The ABC series Parenthood similarly jumped from a rating of 2 when it first aired to a 2.9 over the next seven days.
Network executives are supportive of including this DVR data in shows’ ratings. “You’d be foolish not to look at the DVR performance as a measure of the potential a program has,” said Alan Wurtzel, the president for research at NBC. “You have to recalibrate everything— what’s a hit, what’s a marginal show, what’s a failure.”
He also said that there was a correlation between the shows’ viewer ratings and advertising ratings over the seven days. “I would take information for 14 days if [Nielsen] would provide it,” Wurtzel added, “so we can monitor engagement and audience behavior, even if we can’t monetize it.”
But according to Aaron Cohen, the chief negotiating officer for Horizon Media, advertisers aren’t planning to consider including more than three days' worth of data in their advertising rates. “There is a good reason why we wouldn’t want to go beyond C3,” he said. “Advertisers like retailers and restaurants, anything with near-term openings, are looking for one- to three-day campaigns.”