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October 4, 2015

Nielsen's Top Time-Shifted Shows

by Brett Love, posted Dec 21st 2006 4:21PM
HeroesLost Remote has a bunch of year end lists from the folks at Nielsen covering TV, movies, music, and books. The one I found really interesting is the top time-shifted shows of the year. It seems that this is really not a list that you would want to show up on. NBC places Studio 60 (#1), Friday Night Lights (#5), 30 Rock (#5), and Kidnapped (#9), all of which are having well publicized struggles with ratings.

ABC's lone entry on the list is The Nine (#7), and we all know how that turned out. Surprisingly, the CW ties NBC as the most time-shifted network with Gilmore Girls (#3), Next Top Model (#4), Supernatural (#7), One Tree Hill (#9), and Smallville (#9) making the list. The only top time-shifted show that has been able to translate that into ratings success is Heroes (#2).

If nothing else, I think this adds to the case that the current ratings system is broken. For so many low rated shows to show up on this list, something is getting lost in the numbers.

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I think Nielsen has been missing the boat for years. Before I got a DVR, I was timeshifting with my VCR. I even had to get two VCR's to handle the small fraction of the time when there were actually 3 shows on at the same time that I wanted to watch! I recorded 2 and watched the third. But does that show up in the ratings? Of course not.

December 23 2006 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Grim 100%. A DVR viewer is probably what advertisers are looking for. They tend to have more spending power, are probably more educated, are bigger TV viewers, etc. etc. And yes many, like me, fast forward the commercials, but at some point they will figure out a way to get to us... when they do they have a very nice sub-group of the population that advertisers will be fighting to get to.

And there is something else most of you are missing on. Most DVR people (15 million which I think is huge) hardly watch any show live. I know I wait 10 minutes for sitcoms and 20 for dramas before I start them so I wont have to see commercials. This means in essence that I time shift all my shows 100% of them... so I don't really give preference to any of them, I see them as I please.

And I got my DVR because it was better technology, because I read the papers and magazines, because I'm aware of a lot things around me. I bought a new flat screen TV this year, a new computer last year, and I'm in the market for a car... now tell me there aren't millions like me out there.

Oh and one last thing, when I do watch ads and I like one, I tend to rewind it and watch it sometimes several times.

The media business is changing guys... DVR is here to stay and the ones that jumped on it first should be advertising targets.

December 22 2006 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

PVR viewers are NOT the folks advertisers are looking for...PVR users are the ones who ship thru all the ads.

December 22 2006 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You think 7% is small? There is less Neilson homes then that. I work in a population sampling business. If I could find a way to sample 7% of a population group I'd be promoted pretty fast :)

December 21 2006 at 9:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, 15 million PVR viewers could make a big difference for a lot of shows. With (for example) Studio 60 and Friday Night Lights averaging about 8 million viewers (or less), even a million PVR viewers is a significant bump in their ratings...

December 21 2006 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Grim, you over estimate the impact of 15 million boxes.

There are over 100 million households in this country.

You have to reduce viewership within the PVR universe by a factor of 7 to get a clear picture of how large that number is within the grand scope of things.

If half of the PVR universe time shifts a show, it only represents 7% of the viewing audience at large. That program would register high on the time-shifting list, but that would not necessarily mean it has a large audience overall.

December 21 2006 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hessian, I think you are underestimating the number of PVR users out there. There are about 15 million in the US, and those are likely to be, in large part, people who watch a lot of TV (or why else would they buy them).

Also, it is not simply that these are "second choice" shows that people aren't as committed to in the timeslot (although that may be the situation for the CW shows). In many cases people are out (especially the case for Saturday airings of Kidnapped), plus for 10pm shows many people favor sleep.

Another factor here is that PVR users are almost the perfect demographic for advertisers, there are generally either young or older but adept at technology, they embrace new products, and they have shown that they are prepared to spend. Once new ways of advertising to these people come about then there will be a large shift in network programming towards these more niche shows.

December 21 2006 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

it doesn't take a PVR to timeshift. a computer with a fast internet connection is all it takes, but i doubt the number of people doing that, which i bet is larger that PVR's, is not included in that list.

i'm not just talking BitTorrent, there are a lot of other ways available to get acces to episodes.

December 21 2006 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The numbers are accurate. You're neglecting to understand the nature of the average viewer.

The PVR universe is much smaller than the TV broadcast universe. A substantial number of viewers simply do not have access to the technology.

It makes sense that the more popular shows are viewed live. Time-shifted shows are the second choice of a PVR viewer in a given time period.

In the non-PVR household, these shows simply don't get seen.

December 21 2006 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Juan Aguilar

For so many low rated shows to show up on this list, something is getting lost in the numbers.

Yup: ad revenue.

December 21 2006 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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