Turner Broadcasting System and Cox Communications said viewers responded favorably to a trial with Cox’s MyPrimetime that disabled the fast-forward functionality.
Overall, more than 80 percent of Cox’s customers in the trial were satisfied with fast-forward trick playing being disabled, which bodes well for advertisers that want their ads viewed after the linear shows have first aired.
Turner confirmed that time-shifted VOD viewing of the Turner programs could be counted toward Nielsen’s C+3 ratings, which is an agreed upon industry measure that indicates how many viewers are exposed to commercials within three days of the original airing of a program. The test was also noteworthy because viewership for eight shows from TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network increased by almost 10 percent during the C+3 timeframe.
The on-demand programming was available free to select Cox digital cable customers, with fast-forward functionality disabled, the day after the shows' first ran on linear broadcast.
"One of the major challenges faced by programmers and distributors in offering consumers greater convenience in time-shifting content has been preserving the advertising business model that enables high-quality programming to be produced in the first place," said Bob Wilson, senior vice president of programming for Cox. "Our work with Turner demonstrates that consumers will view on-demand content, with advertising, and that this exposure can be measured; this is a major milestone that will enable more content and convenience for consumers."
Turner and Cox first started testing customer response to on-demand programming with full ad load and fast-forward functionality disabled in December. The tests involved on-demand playback of eight top Turner network TV shows, including programs such as “The Closer” on TNT, “Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns” on TBS and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on Cartoon Network.
Cox and Turner said they were able to preserve the Nielsen watermark, an inaudible cue tone that is detected by Nielsen's People Meters to measure advertising exposure, and to deliver the content in exactly the same form as linear broadcast.
Another key finding in the trial was that even with fast-forward functionality disabled, viewers still chose to view entire shows nearly 100 percent of the time, compared with online views, which typically represent significantly less than entire shows.
The trial was Cox’s and Turner's first involving the measurement of on-demand content and non-skippable commercials.
"This is a win-win for everyone involved," said Coleman Breland, COO of Turner Network Sales. "The collaboration shows how cable networks and their affiliates can preserve ad revenue, while still giving viewers anytime access to the popular programming they love. Because commercials aren't skipped, advertisers know their messages get through, and most importantly, viewers get what they want when they want it."
Initially launched in 2007, MyPrimetime now offers shows from more than 20 of the most popular networks the day after they first air. Cox said it’s planning to significantly increase the programs available in MyPrimetime this fall.