New DVR Data Hints At Viewer Habits

Nielsen Media Research last week issued its first ratings reports that include data for shows recorded and viewed via digital video recorders. As expected, the differences between the “live” viewing and same-day DVR viewing were minimal, because Nielsen currently has just 60 DVR homes in its national 9,000-home panel. The ratings company hopes to have a representative sample of DVR homes by July.

Nielsen (which is owned by Adweek parent VNU) was beset with delays most of the week as it juggled measuring irregular holiday TV schedules, adding a network—Univision—to the national ratings reports and processing twice as much data as usual with the DVR information.

As of press time, DVR ratings had been issued for the first two days of last week (Dec. 26-27). About a quarter of the prime-time shows on the six networks registered some playback, possibly an early indicator of which shows are likely to be viewed more often via DVR. Last Monday, five of 18 prime-time shows on the six national networks registered same-day playback, including House on Fox; Two and a Half Men, Out of Practice and CSI: Miami on CBS; and Medium on NBC.

House had the largest DVR tune-in—30,000 out of a total of 5,791,000 viewers, according to the Nielsen data. That was enough to bump the show’s audience aged 18 to 49 by one-tenth of a rating point.

The early numbers will likely fuel debate over the value of time-shifted viewing. Agency executives say one of the biggest issues facing them this year will be how DVR viewing affects the marketplace. “It may change the pricing and supply-demand dynamics” for TV, said Joe Uva, CEO of Omnicom’s OMD Worldwide.