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Do DVR Users Really Skip Commercials?

by Tom Moccia | December 28, 2010December 28, 2010 10:00 am PDT

I’m a big DVR advocate as I believe it optimizes my television viewing and I spend less time in front said television. Commercials eat up a lot of time, especially during sporting events, and I am a sports junky, hence the DVR obsession. I typically watch my sporting events while running on the treadmill as it kills two birds with one stone; I get my cardio in, and I enjoy the game.

I thought almost everyone optimized DVR’s and skipped the commercials, but when big games arise I find that isn’t the case. For example, this Sunday I was running some errands as the football game started, and was planning to start watching the game when I returned home, thus being behind live action and having the opportunity to skip the ads as well as halftime. To my dismay, as the game progressed, I had friends text me with updates about the game. I then realized everyone doesn’t implement DVR technology in the same way.

This led me to do some research, and I found a study from Nielsen, you know, the people that tell us what we watch and when we watch it? I found that about forty percent of US households have DVR’s and some people do skip the commercials like I do. Advertisers are now trying to combat “ad skippers” with what they call contextual ads. Contextual ads are commercials that draw the viewer into some sort of story, not necessarily related to the product in the ad. For example, imagine a commercial starting with zombies attacking and they are just about to eat a man and a woman when they nielsen_logoare rescued by a hero in the form of a Toyota Corolla. Not a person in a Toyota mind you, but the Toyota itself saves them. This ad is designed to peak the interest of the viewer before they hit the fast forward button and have them actually watch the commercial.

The Nielsen study also claims that more advertisements are viewed when the show in question is played back within three days of original air. This makes a lot of sense because the promos for upcoming shows are still relevant. I am catching up on Desperate Housewives and just completed an episode from eight months ago, as you can imagine the election commercials are no longer relevant, result fast forward.

Another interesting fact revealed in the study is that although viewers may have pre-recorded their shows, they don’t always fast forward through the commercials. Don Seaman, a vice president and director of communications analysis for the media agency MPG, says that some viewers multitask while watching television and use the commercials as a timing mechanism. Facebook, Twitter and other activities are conducted during the commercial breaks, and when the show resumes the viewer ceases those activities and returns to viewing. I find myself doing this while researching story topics, applications, and keeping up on the latest tech news. These are somewhat monotonous activities and can be accomplished while enjoying some prime time television with the family.

What it all comes down to is that DVR technology is implemented in as many differnt ways as there are users. Some users record everything and can watch an entire season of a show in just a few days, others simply start a recording to avoid commercials and “catch up” to live just as the show comes to completion, and still some record shows, yet multitask during the ad time.

Do use a DVR to optimize your viewing and if so what are your viewing habits? I am curious to know as my interest has been peaked. leave your comments below.


Tom Moccia

Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...

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