Ad Skipping, DVR’s and The Future of Television

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The methodology arguments that the network suits gave over Nielsen’s tracking of commercial ratings suggested that they may not like the results. They may have been right. Rebecca Dana and Stephanie Kang report in The Wall Street Journal today that one-fifth of today’s most popular shows are being watched without the commercials live or on DVR playbacks within a three day period.

While the numbers are not conclusive — there is only one week of new Fall season data available — they provide interesting information. From The WSJ:

”The figures show wide variations in the proportion of an audience skipping commercials, with the highest rate of ad skipping occurring among some of the most high-profile network shows. CBS Corp.’s ‘Survivor: China,’ one of that network’s top-rated shows, saw 19.3% of its audience clicking away or fast-forwarding through the commercials for the episode airing Sept. 26. About 5.16 million people between the ages of 18 and 49 watched the episode live. When the audience is broadened to include people watching as much as three days after broadcast, that figure rises to 6.51 million. But 5.23 million of those watched the commercials.”


Marketers have been concerned as to the effectiveness of television advertising for some time. In fact, the C3 metric was created in order to allay those concerns. Media buyers and the networks are given more detailed ratings, inluding which shows’ commercials were poorly watched (only the top 20 are released to the public) and the mother’s milk of information — demographic breakdowns.

(image via clipart)