TiVo to Increase Sample Size of its StopWatch Ratings Service to 300,000 Households

--Says this will Enable it to Generate Ratings for Dozens of Additional Networks
--Teams with Innerscope on Study of Ads and Fast-Forwarding

DVR vendor/service provider, TiVo, announced Wednesday that it will increase the sample size of its StopWatch ratings service (collects anonymous second-by-second audience research data from TiVo boxes) from 100,000 to 300,000 in advance of the fall, 2009 television season. The company says that the increased sample size will further enhance the accuracy of the service's program and commercial ratings, and enable it to produce stable ratings data for dozens of additional cable networks, which have hitherto "gone unmeasured by the industry currency" because of their narrower distribution and lower viewership. It also claims that the increase will make StopWatch 75 times larger than the DVR sample of "the existing currency" and allow it to offer an "unmatched level of granular behavioral data critical to understanding how viewers are consuming TV in the age of the DVR."

TiVo says that, even with StopWatch's current sample size of 100,000 subscribers, it is adding more networks to the service, as those networks achieve sufficient viewership to meet the service's "strict reporting thresholds." In the coming months, the company says, the StopWatch service will begin measuring Fox Business Network, History International and MLB Network. Once the service's sample size is increased, TiVo claims, StopWatch will report on "essentially any network that regularly delivers at least 10,000 viewers." "The demand for access to this granular level of viewing data across previously unmeasured cable networks is a driving force behind our decision to increase our sample size in the coming months," Todd Juenger, VP and general manager of TiVo Audience Research & Measurement, said in a prepared statement. "By turning up the dial to 300,000 subscribers, we will be able to cast a much wider net and deliver critical measurement and accountability for lesser-viewed television networks that still have millions of advertising impressions that are going unaccounted for, given the limitations of the sample size used by the industry currency. For example, a network that delivers viewership of 50,000 homes (approximately a 0.05 household rating) would only be represented by seven households in the currency panel, which is why data for these networks is not reported--the sample is just too small--and only two of the seven would be homes with DVR's. By contrast, in our expanded sample, the same network would be represented by about 150 TiVo subscribers watching a program, and of course, these are all DVR households."

TiVo claims various advantages for StopWatch over traditional panel-based services, in addition to its large sample size. These include 1) second-by-second granularity, enabling ratings for each commercial; 2) a national footprint covering all signal sources, including digital and analog cable, satellite and over-the-air; 3) the ability to monitor both live and time-shifted viewing, and thus to track commercial fast-forwarding; and 4) the fact that it derives data from people's regular TV watching, eschewing paid panelists and obtrusive metering. According to TiVo, the StopWatch service now tracks ratings for 93 nationally distributed, ad-supported networks, and covers all nationally distributed programming and commercials aired from 5:00AM to 11:30PM. It derives data from a daily, aggregate, anonymous, stratified random sample, from which a second-by-second "clickstream" of behavior and viewership is collected and assessed; and offers data for Total Viewing, Live Viewing, Timeshifted Viewing, Program Ratings, Commercial Ratings and a Commercial Viewership Index (note: it uses ad occurrence data from TNS Media Intelligence to identify commercials). Companies that subscribe to the service (and to TiVo's companion PowerWatch service, which features a volunteer panel of 20,000 households and which offers demographic segmentations) include Omnicom, CBS, Interpublic, Starcom, Zenith Optimedia, Carat USA, MPMA, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Media IQ and Euro RSCG New York.

In other TiVo news: Earlier this week, the company announced the results of a joint study with media research firm, Innerscope, which the companies claim identified a "clear and strong" correlation between TV viewers' emotional engagement with advertisements and their subsequent fast-forwarding behavior.

The live study of 55 national ads found that viewers are 25% more likely to fast-forward through ads with low emotional engagement than through those with high emotional engagement, and that ads that are more emotionally engaging are more likely to be viewed in their entirety, even in a time-shifted environment. The study concluded that sustaining viewers requires an understanding of their emotional engagement with an ad. "Ads with poor engagement lose 25% of their viewers," Innerscope co-founder and CEO, Carl Marci, said in a prepared statement. "Our products provide specific recommendations to help advertisers get those viewers back."

According to TiVo and Innerscope, the study also showed the importance of establishing emotional engagement during an ad's first few seconds: ads beginning with low engagement suffered a "precipitous" drop-off in viewership, the companies say, and viewers choosing to fast-forward do not return to an ad, regardless of its subsequent effectiveness. Building on prior research from Innerscope that purports to show that viewers do not "turn off their emotions" during fast-forwarding, the study also found that if engagement remains consistently above average, viewership remains stable throughout ads, and that if engagement declines over the course of an ad, then viewership declines at a similar rate.

The study, which was conducted in late 2008, compared live biometric monitoring of emotional engagement with scores from the StopWatch ratings service: Innerscope measured the emotional engagement of two groups of 20 viewers as they each viewed an hour of live content in real time with ads included. The viewers wore Innerscope's Biometric Monitoring System, which features lightweight, wireless-connected vests that monitor heart rate, breathing, skin sweat and motion. Engagement scores for 55 national ads across both shows were then matched with StopWatch data to compare when, and how many, viewers chose to fast-forward through an ad. When the two metrics were compared, TiVo and Innerscope say, the emotional engagement of Innerscope's viewers correctly predicted whether--and how many--viewers would choose to fast-forward at any given moment.

 

North America