Posts Tagged ‘Television’

Unconventional Thinking and DVR Viewing Habits . . .

August 12, 2008

AdAge posted this article lamenting that by making DVR technology widely available, the value of TV advertising would be further eroded, citing the often cited statistic that “85% of DVR owners are currently skipping at least three-quarters of ads.”

I think they (and a lot of others) have it wrong. The DVR is network television’s (and network TV advertisers’) salvation. The only reason network TV still has any audience at all is because of the DVR–the DVR is an effective (if sneaky) way to keep us watching TV ads when we don’t have to. For me, it works like a one-two punch, 1) making network programming watchable again, and 2) sneaking in an ad I actually watch here and there–which is probably just as many as I watched before the DVR . . .

For me (and I bet it’s the same for most viewers) it looks like this:

John’s (very few) hours of TV watching pre-DVR: [Thinking] Is there a movie on a cable channel I don’t have to pay for and is it commercial-free (like TCM or IFC)?


Is there a reeeeaaaallly interesting program on Discovery or History or A&E?


Forget it.

In the days before 128 channel choices (and that’s in DirecTV’s cheap package), and back when there were fewer than 20 minutes or more of commercial content every hour, I might have suffered through the 10 – 15 minutes of ads to watch a sitcom or variety show or some other network program, but it’s just torture for someone like me (who eats, sleeps, and drinks advertising all day, every day).

John’s (still very few) hours of TV watching with-DVR: [Thinking] What’s on that looks interesting and starts in about 30 minutes? Go to channel guide and find out. Go to channel (or just hit record) and go do something until the show comes on (or my scheduled viewing time comes) and push play.

Now here’s the kicker–and what the networks and their analysts aren’t seeing–beside the fact that I’m now in their audience when there’s no way (except during basketball season and the Olympics) that I ever would be otherwise, while I do fast forward through the ads, I also do sometimes end up watching them: 1) if I’ve never seen it; 2) if I find it entertaining or informative; 3) by accident (if I get complacent about fast forwarding, or someone walks in and starts a conversation, etc.).

And really, that’s about how much attention I paid to ads before the advent of the DVR (when I would go get a snack,take a potty break, make a call, etc. when the ads came on).

So, in effect, the DVR is actually buying back network viewers who watch the ads just as much as before.