TiVo Enhances StopWatch Ratings Service with New "Pure Program Ratings" Metric

--Makes It Possible to See Percentage of Viewers Lost During Commercial Breaks

TiVo announced last week that its StopWatch ratings service (collects anonymous second-by-second audience research data from TiVo boxes) is now offering a new metric that it calls Pure Program Ratings. The metric, which TiVo says is derived using the number of TiVo subscribers viewing a program in live- or timeshifted mode, excluding the commercials, is designed to calculate the total potential audience for commercials during a given program. While "current industry services" measure a program's viewership rating without separating the program content from the commercials that air during it," TiVo says, "TiVo's Pure Program Ratings separates the ratings and makes it possible to determine the percentage of potential viewers lost during a program's commercial breaks."

TiVo has released a new set of ratings for May which incorporate the new metric: "The May 7 episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' had a Pure Program timeshifted audience of 17.0," Todd Juenger, VP and general manager of TiVo Audience Research & Measurement, explained in a prepared statement. "That means there was potential to deliver a commercial audience of 17.0 ratings points, if every viewer watching stuck around during the commercial breaks. However, looking at the Commercial Timeshifted Rating, we see most viewers didn't and commercials running during the program only received a 2.7 rating. Simply put, 14.3 ratings points worth of audience or 84% of available viewers during timeshifted viewing were lost to fast-forwarding during commercials. Among the most fundamental insights our clients look for from the StopWatch ratings service is the relationship between program audiences and commercial audiences," Juenger continued. "Audiences for television programs have always been defined by the entire program block, including all the content, commercials and promotion elements. While we continue to offer that, in the world of DVR viewing, it's no longer sufficient. We have always offered our clients audience ratings for specific commercials, one by one or aggregated. Now we are also providing the converse, audience ratings for purely program content. Doing so puts in even starker terms the challenge of delivering traditional commercial messages to a timeshifted viewing audience."

TiVo's May StopWatch ratings also provided separate top-10 commercial and top-10 program rankings among total and timeshifted viewers. "As we see every month, there is little correlation between the top rated programs and top viewed commercials," Juenger continued. "This month's highest rated program for total viewing, the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' which aired on May 14, only placed one commercial in the Top 10 Viewed Commercials (Total Viewing) and three in the Top 10 Viewed Commercials (Timeshifted)."

According to TiVo, the StopWatch ratings service now draws on a sample of 250,000 TiVo subscribers (it initially drew on a sample of 100,000) and the sample will increase to 300,000 by next month. The company claims that the 300,000-subscriber sample will make StopWatch "75 times larger than the DVR sample of the existing currency." It says that it calculates the number of subscribers in its sample size, based on five minute increments: "This is extremely important to the accuracy of set-top-box ratings, because it's just as important to know the denominator (how many subscribers are in the active data set for that specific time slice) as it is to know the numerator (how many subscribers are tuned to a given program or commercial)," Juenger stated.

Pure Program Ratings and increased sample size are the latest in a series of new features that TiVo says it has recently added to the StopWatch service. Other new features, according to the company, include:

  • Commercial Viewership Index (CVI), which measures the size of the commercial audience relative to the surrounding program based on 15-minute intervals rather than total program block. Traditional CVI's, which TiVo says are also available in the StopWatch service, compare the commercial to the entire program.
  • Households Using Television (HUT) charts, which show how many subscribers, in total, are watching TV at any given point in time, in both live and timeshifted contexts.
  • Second-by-second graphing and analysis tools which allow for graphing multiple programs on the same chart and graphing all airings of a specific commercial into one picture in order to understand fast-forwarding and tune-out trends within the commercial itself.


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