DVRs are seen by many advertisers as a threat, but a recent study by InsightExpress and MediaPost has determined that DVR users actually watch 24% more TV, and in turn more advertisements.
The advent of Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) has been celebrated by many TV viewers, but greeted warily by advertisers who are threatened by the power it gives to consumers to skip through commercials. While previous mediums like video tapes also allowed consumers to skip commercials by fast forwarding, DVRs offer higher ease-of-use, allowing users to record many programs with a few buttons, and can be used during live programming to pause a program and then zip through commercials to catch up. DVRs have changed viewers habits, allowing them to watch TV according their schedule, rather than the networks'. Advertisers fear that as DVRs achieve greater penetration there will be fewer opportunities for their ads to get out.
However, a set of recent online studies by InsightExpress and MediaPost discovered that DVR subscribers actually present a better audience for ads than those who don't use DVRs. Comparing TV use by consumers before and after DVR subscription points to a 24% increase in the number of hours per week watching TV. DVR subscribers have a 37% higher level of TV viewing satisfaction as well. And not only are they watching and enjoying TV more, they're merely forwarding through the commercials rather than changing the channel. Over 50% of non-DVR subscribers say they before using DVRs, they changed channels instead of watching commercials. But when that 50% of respondents became DVR subscribers, 96% say they watch or forward-through commercials instead.
Fast-forwarding is not necessarily a major problem for advertisers either. Although many viewers are fast-forwarding through commercials, InsightExpress discovered that viewers still "always" (15%) or "sometimes" (52%) notice the commercials. In addition, some ad agencies are adapting to viewers actions by creating commercials that can be viewed in compressed form while being fast-forwarded, adapting to the new technology rather than fighting it. By working with the new medium, advertisers can still get their message out.
And they'll have to continue working with the medium, since DVRs are here to stay. Forrester Research reported in April that the number of DVR households in the US will reach 49.6 million by 2009, up from 3.5 million in 2003.
author unknown, eMarketer.com. June 4, 2004
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