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DVR Use Extends TV Viewing Says Study

19 Feb, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Increased use of digital video recorders (DVRs) has expanded the prime time network television period beyond its traditional 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot, according to a new report from the Nielsen Co.

The New York-based media company said total TV usage in November, which included live viewing plus DVR playback, increased 3% at 9 p.m., and 5% from 11 p.m. to midnight, compared to the same period in 2005, when DVR penetration was low.

The study found that viewers increasingly watched recorded programming later in the evening, with DVR playback peaking from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. when 11% of the coveted 18 to 49-year-old demographic tunes in. From 11 p.m. to midnight, 7% of viewers watch recorded programming.

Nielsen said DVR use is split among three groups, led by middle-income women (heavy shifters) who record nearly 26 hours — about 50% of their weekly viewing — a week. By comparison, middle-income males rarely time-shift TV programming.

Medium shifters record 30% of their TV programming.

Interestingly, light shifters include viewers with incomes above $100,000 who comprise 70% of the DVR market and are most likely to own an HDTV, yet record just 10% of their TV programming.

Least recorded programming includes news, sports and movies, while serial dramas “House,” “Grey's Anatomy” and “Heroes” are the most recorded.

Other time-shifted favorites are “Oprah,” soap operas and reality programming, including “Survivor,” “The Biggest Loser” and “Dancing with the Stars”.

“Consumers are increasingly making time-shifted viewing an important part of their overall television experience and are beginning to change traditional TV models,” said Patricia McDonough, SVP of insights analysis and policy with Nielsen Media Research. “DVR playback has added to TV usage, particularly during the most watched hours of the day.”

The report made no mention whether DVR viewers fast-forward through the commercials — a growing concern among advertisers as DVR use increases.

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