An interesting conversation with a major media buyer on Friday on the Nielsen average commercial minute and DVR numbers that came out last week (6/1/07 TVBR #107) led to a conversation about TiVo's second by second numbers, of which he subscribes. While he noted there were no surprises with the Nielsen data, most of the TiVo numbers are being suppressed, as the clients themselves and therefore not public domain pay them for.
In the TiVo world, there are indications that up to 90% of all the commercials are skipped on video playback.
"As TiVo is going through second by second playback, they're telling you there are huge variations, but up to 90% of that stuff is just skipped. It varies on program type. Some of us are starting to model this out to the general, non-TiVo population. The implications of these numbers are really raising a few eyebrows. What looks like a small number of drop-off for even the Nielsen numbers, if you apply a very large number to it, meaning your media budget, a small percentage of a large number is still a large number."
And more and more viewers will be time shifting, so it will only increase. And for programs like Nielsen's mention of "The Office" as having the least amount of fast forwarding, they will cost a fortune in the upfront to purchase.
Also, a major factor will be what part of the commercial break is fast-forwarded the most. In the UK, for example, they found the middle spot were fast forwarded the most, as folks are slow to react to fast forwarding the first spot, and stop fast forwarding towards the end of the break so as not to fast forward over the content. This was creating a market for first in and last out of break spots. That is where some of those 90% numbers are likely coming from. TiVo's second-by-second ability can bear out some of this data. Whether networks will allow deals based on this remains to be seen.
Another factor that will shake up the industry is when the MSOs start offering real time proprietary viewing data-room by room of what is being shown. Said our source: "That would be more accurate than the 10,000 homes against 350 million people. And the balance of power between the networks and the distributors is changing. So you start to get the data coming from Cablevision, for example. They have own their own data on 18 million homes, and it could be a bit different from the Nielsen numbers. This could happen soon, but I suspect the networks and the industry in general are going to fight it, threatening to pull their carriage agreements. That's a dangerous game if it gets to critical mass. However, some of the smaller networks need all the carriage they can get and are less likely to fight it."