updated 01:10 pm EST, Thu February 14, 2008
DVRs boosting viewers
Digital video recorders (DVRs) are increasing the amount of time people spend watching TV, says the Nielsen research group. While DVRs can theoretically make people extremely selective, it appears to simply be enabling people to watch more programming they would ordinarily miss, due to inconvenient timeframes. A study specifically contrasted viewing from November 2005 -- before much DVR penetration, Nielsen says, although it did not track DVRs at the time -- and November 2007.
Results show that for viewers aged 18 to 49, use increased "slightly" throughtout the day, 3 percent around 9PM, and 5 percent between 11PM and midnight. The definition of "primetime" TV is also becoming increasingly nebulous, as while it has traditionally run between 8 to 11PM, DVR usage peaks between 9 and 10PM at 11 percent, with 7 percent watching shows between 11PM and midnight.
Nielsen further divides viewers into "light," "medium" and "heavy" timeshifters. Contrary to stereotypes of the technology-obsessed male, heavy shifters were typically found to be middle-class women, watching as much as half of their weekly TV (26 hours) through DVRs; males in the 18-34 demographic were actually the least likely to make heavy use of a DVR.
Medium shifters are said to see slightly more TV than the average person, despite only watching a third of their shows through their set-tops. Light shifters, meanwhile, actually watch less TV than the average person and only 10 percent through DVRs, but account for nearly 70 percent of the DVR userbase. They are also more likely to be rich, with incomes in excess of $100,000, owning at least one HDTV display.
Dramas such as House and Heroes are said to be the most recorded kind of program, but talk shows, soap operas and "reality" programming are also saved en masse.