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Nielsen: TV usage on the rise due to DVR playback

Thu, 02/14/2008 - 7:57am
Traci Patterson

The amount of time that consumers spend watching TV is increasing, thanks to the ability to playback content via digital video recorders (DVRs), according to new data from The Nielsen Co.

When Nielsen compared total TV usage (live viewing, as well as DVR playback) in November for consumers ages 18-49 with total TV usage in November 2005 (before Nielsen measured DVR homes), the company found that viewing had increased slightly during the daytime and was 3 percent higher at 9 p.m., and 5 percent higher between 11 p.m. and midnight.

The findings are important, Nielsen said, because the number of DVR households in the U.S. continues to grow, and DVR primetime viewing levels will likely rise, as well.

Nielsen also reported that the traditional prime time period between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. is expanding because people are watching the shows that they recorded later that night. DVR playback peaks at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., with 11 percent of viewers ages 18-49 in DVR homes playing back recorded programming on their DVRs, while between 11 p.m. and midnight, 7 percent of consumers are playing programming back.

"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 at Nielsen Media Research. "DVR playback has added to TV usage, particularly during the most watched hours of the day, as viewers take advantage of their ability to watch their favorite shows according to their own schedules."

Nielsen also reported that time-shifting is not evenly distributed by forms of programs. As would be expected, most viewers prefer to watch news, sports and movies live. On the other hand, general dramas are most often recorded and viewed later and account for one-third of all time-shifted content.

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