TiVo: Heavy Timeshifting of Early Primetime Shows Erodes Live Viewing During 10:00PM Timeslot

DVR vendor, TiVo, released new data from its StopWatch ratings service, Thursday, which it says show that primetime programming that aired on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in February during the 8:00PM and 9:00PM timeslots was much more likely to be viewed in timeshifted mode, compared to programming aired in the 10:00PM timeslot (note: the StopWatch service collects anonymous second-by-second audience research data from a passive sample of 100,000 TiVo boxes). According to the company, the 9:00PM timeslot was the most heavily timeshifted hour, with 59% of viewers opting to record programming during that hour and watch it later; and the 8:00PM timeslot was a close second, with 58% timeshifted viewing; however, during the 10:00PM hour, only 53% of viewers opted to timeshift programming.

Most significantly, TiVo says that the extensive timeshifting it observed in the earlier primetime slots appeared to erode live viewing in the 10:00PM slot: "These findings underscore the fact that all broadcast primetime timeslots are not created equal," Todd Juenger, VP and general manager of TiVo Audience Measurement & Research, said in a prepared statement. "According to our research, when a television is attached to a DVR, not only is a majority of broadcast network programming between 8:00PM and 10:00PM viewed in timeshifted mode, but, perhaps more importantly, 30% of this timeshifted viewing takes place within an hour of airing. So, it comes as no surprise that the 10:00PM timeslot is getting squeezed from both sides. Much of the timeshifted viewing from the 8:00PM and 9:00PM airings stomps out the audience that would historically watch 10:00PM programming in live mode. For example, in February according to the StopWatch ratings service, the average live household rating for a 10:00PM program was 3.2, while timeshifted viewing within one hour from 9:00PM programs was 1.2--38% of the live 10:00PM audience. But the 10:00PM programming also has a backstop from the 11:00PM news (or bedtime). While some viewers will record programs aired at 10:00PM for viewing later in the week, many are abandoning that hour of television altogether."

TiVo also says that data generated by the StopWatch service in February showed--perhaps not surprisingly--that commercials geared toward employment opportunities and investing (from Monster.com and E-Trade Financial respectively) were among the least fast-forwarded (and, therefore, presumably of most interest to viewers). More surprisingly, however, car commercials were also among the least skipped: "In this economic environment, it is not surprising that consumers would be interested in job opportunities and financial advice," TiVo's Juenger continued. "What is surprising is that despite the historically low number of new car purchases in the US, a number of car commercials including Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, Lexus and Nissan, were among the brands least skipped by viewers. Perhaps consumers are keeping a careful eye out for special deals, or maybe the dearth of advertising from the Big Three auto manufacturers is making these other car ads stand-out? Equally surprising, and for the first time in recent memory, not a single theatrical film made the least fast-forwarded list (although theatricals still dominated the most viewed timeshifted commercials, which measures highest timeshifted audience for specific commercial airings)--perhaps a sign that consumers are either not all that interested in what was playing in theaters in February, or, more likely, that despite what's in theaters consumers are opting for in-home entertainment and choosing what's on the TV (or their TiVo DVR) instead."

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