Thursday, February 22, 2007

DVR's, Nielsens and "Lost"

This was getting buried down in comments on an earlier post, so I'll bring up Eli's comments and my reply to here:

Eli said:

Here's another thing with LOST and TV ratings...
How they conduct viewing audience is going to have to change. I know the mag Entertainment Weekly did a feature on this last year. People more and more are DVRing shows. I DVR every show I watch now because I am absolutely sick to death of commercials. I will not sit through a live, real time show (unless it's sports) anymore because of them.

In the case of LOST it's even more imperative to tape the show because of all the other things going on in the background. Check out the website "Lost Easter Eggs" ( if you don't believe how many people dissect every second of every episode.

The article in yesterday's Life section [on "Lost's" sinking ratings], I think, was an Opinion Editorial that should not have ran in the state it did. The editors did a bad job of letting it run. In this case the article failed to mention that the latest numbers came on the heels of Valentine's Day, and failed to mention anything about DVRs or that LOST is likely the #1 DVRed show on the air. Which ratings (unless I'm mistaken) do NOT take into account.

It is increasingly apparent in this day and age - when Britney's head shaving and Anna Nichol Smith's embalmed body can consume every media venue in the US of A - that journalists no longer simply report the news, they have to go out and add to it.

My response

Eli, Nielsen did start measuring "time shifted" shows last year (it also just began measuring college students -- look for Adult Swim ratings to spike!). "Studio 60" gains the most viewers once you count DVRs in, although obviously not enough to make it a hit. The overall numbers of DVR users
are still relatively low. They matter, but not like you might think.

An unrelated, but I think interesting point, on DVR's: A recent study showed that most people with DVRs DO NOT skip commercials. I found that fascinating. Viewers either appreciate the chance to get up and use the john, or they forget to skip ahead, or there's a commercial that catches their attention, so they stop and watch it.

BTW, when you say "the editors did a bad job of letting it run," those editors would be me. I'm the guy who does the TV grids and the highlights and picks the stories for the daily TV page, so if you ever have a question, comment or complaint about that stuff, I'm your guy.


At 11:32 AM, February 22, 2007, Blogger Eli the Mad Man said...

Actually, I didn't mean YOU. I wasn't aware that you can "edit" articles written by folks
off The Associated Press.

Still, I think that article should have been clearly marked asn OpEd, since its filled with speculation and opinion, and bereft of any real facts, not to mention DVRs or the fact that the 12.8 viewership was taken on Valentine's Day.

BTW, good knowledge about Nielsen Ratings (which I've always thought was bogus anyway - I've never met ANYONE who has EVER participated in any way, or even knows anyone who ever did) taking DVRs into account.

At 12:20 PM, February 22, 2007, Blogger V said...

"A recent study showed that most people with DVRs DO NOT skip commercials."

Wow - that's crazy... That's the whole reason we usually watch shows (even those running "that night") on the DVR...

You can cut SO much of the banter/time filler out of American Idol, for example, just by giving the show a 30 min "head start" on the DVR!

At 4:23 PM, February 22, 2007, Blogger Brian B said...

Lost is #4 most recorded show according to Tivo. Not all DVRs are Tivo's, but I assume a vast majority are.

I saw that same article about people not skipping ads with their DVRs. I don't understand why, that is the main reason we bought our first Tivo and subsequent DVRs.

At 7:28 AM, February 23, 2007, Blogger AndyW said...

We go back and forth on skipping. Like last night, we watched "The Office" live -- maybe pausing a few times -- and then hopped through an hour of "Idol" in maybe 20 minutes. "Idol" is the most DVR-friendly show ever made. But sometimes it's easier just to let the "tape" run while you get up to grab something to eat or drink.

At 9:26 AM, February 23, 2007, Blogger Eli the Mad Man said...

Ya, I'm stunned by the fact that most people do not skip commercials.

Frankly, I am so sick and tired of them that I refuse to watch a live show anymore. Between the number of times they show the SAME commercial, and the volume increase (has anyone else noticed how much louder commercials are now? I mean to the point where you actually have to turn down the volume)... enough is enough. I will not watch ANY show live (unless it's sports).

I don't watch Idol anymore, but boy... Andy's right. DVRs were made for that show. You can watch the whole thing in 20 mins.


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