I actually ask the folks at USFR not to tell me what our Nielsen ratings are unless they have to for some reason. I think it would every bit as nerve-wracking as watching the combine monitor on a year like this (another reason Aaron is in the cab).
One of the TV's industries concerns is as DVR's become commonplace and more shows are watched after recording, many of you will skip the commercials.
Against almost every expectation, nearly half of all people watching delayed shows are still slouching on their couches watching messages about movies, cars and beer. According to Nielsen, 46 percent of viewers 18 to 49 years old for all four networks taken together are watching the commercials during playback, up slightly from last year. Why would people pass on the opportunity to skip through to the next chunk of program content?
The most basic reason, according to Brad Adgate, the senior vice president for research at Horizon Media, a media buying firm, is that the behavior that has underpinned television since its invention still persists to a larger degree than expected.
“It’s still a passive activity,” he said.
And those passive viewers are watching in numbers big enough to turn some hits (“House” on Fox) into even bigger moneymakers, some middling successes (“How I Met Your Mother” on CBS) into healthier profit centers, and some seemingly endangered shows (“Heroes” on NBC) into possible survivors.
Two years ago, in a seismic change from past practice, Nielsen started measuring television consumption by the so-called commercial-plus-three ratings, which measure viewing for the commercials in shows that are watched either live or played back on digital video recorders within three days. This replaced the use of program ratings.
At the time, network executives fiercely resisted the change, fearing that they would never get credit for recorded shows because viewers would skip through all the commercials. But the figures show otherwise.
“It’s completely counterintuitive,” said Alan Wurtzel, the president of research for NBC. “But when the facts come in, there they are.”
Almost across the board, the gains for playback are growing. The best preseason estimate for the current season, said David F. Poltrack, the chief research officer for CBS, was about a 1 percent increase from playback over the live program for the networks combined. Instead, many are in the range of 7 to 12 percent, with some shows having increases of more than 20 percent when DVR ratings are added. The four networks together are averaging a 10 percent increase.
“It’s the magnitude that’s really surprising us,” Mr. Poltrack said.
In the 18-to-49 group of viewers — the one prized by networks because most ad sales are directed there — Fox has the biggest percentage increase, from an average rating of 2.39 (which translates into about 2.5 million viewers) for its live programs to a 2.71 rating (about 3.1 million viewers) when the three-day DVR playback results are added in. [More]
Of course, it could be viewers can't read the remote without their glasses, to pick a problem completely at random.
Or the remote is not in the right hands, i.e. a girl.