Nielsen: Not So Much Ad Skipping, Time Shifting

The NY Times covers new data from Nielsen arguing that people are watching commercials even with DVRs:

It turns out that a lot of people with digital video recorders are not fast-forwarding and time-shifting as much as advertisers feared. According to new data released yesterday by the Nielsen Company, people who own digital video recorders, or DVRs, still watch, on average, two-thirds of the ads.

One big reason is that many people with DVRs still tune in to watch about half of their shows at the scheduled start time, meaning they must sit through commercials.

And even when people watch recorded shows later, many are not fast-forwarding through the ads. On average, Nielsen found, DVR owners watch 40 percent of commercials that they could skip over — perhaps because they like ads, don’t mind them or simply can’t be bothered.

DVRs, which were introduced in 1999, are becoming more popular every year, and the cable operators are increasingly offering the feature in new set-top box packages. Analysts say DVRs are now in 12 to 20 percent of households. DVR owners tend to be wealthier and more educated than the average TV owner. DVR owners tend to have more children, and some own more than one DVR.

This is allegedly based on real behavioral data and not attitudes or self reported information. But I’m quite skeptical. I don’t watch commercial TV at all, but everyone whom I know with a DVR doesn’t watch commercials — without exception.

I think what you might find if you segmented the data is that more affluent and better educated viewers (among an educated segment) are less likely to watch commercials. Anecdotally my experience confirms this and contradicts the Nielsen findings.

Do others agree or disagree?

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2 Responses to “Nielsen: Not So Much Ad Skipping, Time Shifting”

  1. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    Very surprising. I ALWAYS skip the ads and, unless they’re watching the Super Bowl, I’m sure just about everyone else does too. Time-shifting is an important benefit of DVRs, but in my book skipping ads is an even more compelling benefit. We often sit down to watch a show 15-20 mins after it starts so we can watch it pseudo-live and still skip the ads.

    I’m not sure why less educated viewers might be more inclined to watch the ads – unless you are suggesting that they cannot figure out how to use the FF button ;)

  2. phil Says:

    Yeah I have a hard time believing this study as well. I have a feeling that Nielsen is hiding some aspects of the data that would make more sense.

    Maybe they just looked at the week around superbowl when people are paying more attention to commercials and this scewed the data…or maybe they looked at all DVR usage…ie ( live TV watching…when you TV is just on in the background) instead of looking at just recorded viewing.

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