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CBS Cites Streaming, DVR for ‘Harper’s Island’ Saturday Switch

27 Apr, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

In an apparent first, CBS Corp. April 27 said increased time-shifting and second-day streaming contributed to its decision to switch the network broadcast of weekly horror series “Harper’s Island” to Saturday from Thursday, beginning May 2.

The rookie series will air at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST/PST.

Citing Nielsen’s seven-day digital video recorder (DVR) playback results compared to network broadcast ratings, the “Harper’s Island” premiere audience on DVR increased 29% among adults aged 18-49, 33% among adults 18-34, 25% in adults 25-54 and gained 1.64 million viewers (11.3 million from 9.6 million).

The premiere was also the biggest online premiere ever on CBS.com, delivering more video streams (combined clips and episodes) than any previous show launch for the network. The series, in which select cast members are killed off on a weekly basis, continues to be the fastest-growing series in CBS.com’s history.

“This move gives us an opportunity to improve the time period on Thursday while experimenting with more original programming on Saturday, and continuing to serve an audience that is clearly engaged in the ongoing ‘Harper's Island’ story,” said Kelly Kahl, senior EVP prime time, CBS Television.

Independent analyst Rob Enderle said time shifting and digital streaming continue to change the home entertainment landscape.  He said the DVR and electronic distribution allow content owners to make programming instantly available without having to spread distribution over weeks of time. Enderle said “Harper’s Island” underscores the fact that content length (i.e. episodic versus movie) can, like books and music, not be a limitation but an opportunity to tell longer stories regardless of the broadcast window.

“This is big, this is a network saying that a program no longer needs a top time slot because of time shifting,” Enderle said. “Even that will eventually evaporate with digital streaming.”

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