TiVo announced that at least half of the viewing for network series premiers in October 2008 was on a Timeshifted basis, according to its Stop||Watch ratings service. Of the seven new broadcast series that debuted, six drew at least 50% of their audience on a Timeshifted basis. In fact, 52% of viewers who tuned in to the month’s highest rated premier, ABC’s Life on Mars, chose to record the program and watch it later. NBC’s My Own Worst Enemy and CBS’s Eleventh Hour had 54% and 51% of their viewers, respectively, tune in on a Timeshifted basis. Timeshifted viewers also skipped commercials at high rates. Five of the seven premiers had at least 60% of their commercials fast-forwarded – viewers who Timeshifted the Life on Mars Premier skipped 65% of the commercials that aired with the program.
Said Todd Juenger, VP/GM, TiVo Audience Research & Measurement: "We would expect to see this level of Timeshifting for an older show with an established fan base, and a new series premier to get most of its viewing Live. The fact that these new series got upwards of 50% of their viewing on a Timeshifted basis indicates that viewers are growing accustomed to recording programs and watching when they want – thereby increasing a program’s total viewership. However, Timeshifting audiences also have the ability to skip commercials, which impacts the efficacy of the ads and the economics of the program, and can have long term effects on how networks evaluate their success going forward."
TiVo also unveiled the Top Commercial and Program Rankings for October 2008, as viewed by TiVo service subscribers. Programming from ABC dominated the month, taking seven of the Top Ten Program spots in Total and Timeshifted viewing – thanks to the hits Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. All of the Top Ten Commercials in Total viewing aired on ABC, while seven of the Top Ten most viewed commercials on a Timeshifted basis aired on the network as well.
Said Juenger: "The effect of DVRs on primetime network programming is staggering. As shown above, programs like ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives typically get nearly 75% of their viewers on a Timeshifted basis. Additionally, these programs generally see more than 60% of Timeshifted viewers fast-forward through their commercials. When you put that together, it means these shows are losing close to 50% of their effective ad inventory in DVR homes. The economics of original programming with big budgets, big audiences, and big advertising revenue don’t work in this environment, and it only gets worse as DVRs continue to proliferate. I can think of no bigger issue facing network television and the brands that depend on it."
TiVo recently reported that broadcast networks received a primetime lift in year-over-year viewership, while cable viewership lagged. The opposite was true for October, with cable experiencing a sizeable year-over-year growth in viewership for Total and Timeshifted viewing. Cable networks also experienced less commercial fast-forwarding than their broadcast counterparts in a year-over-year comparison. Similar to 2007, Timeshifted cable viewers skipped roughly half of the commercials in October 2008, while broadcast commercial skipping again crossed the 60% threshold, reaching 64% for the month in 2008.