Most DVR Users Ever Say "Aloha" to Hawaii Five-0
Every day, more and more TV viewers are installing DVRs into their homes. These descendants of the VCR are becoming ubiquitous across the nation due to their ease of use, and the ability for people to record multiple programs in which they are interested in this ever increasingly fractured viewing universe. With the audience regularly time-shifting network programs away from their scheduled spots, thereby decreasing "live" ratings (and therefore ad revenue), even the networks have begun to incorporate DVR viewings into the official ratings. These "Live+7" numbers (live ratings plus any DVR viewings within seven days of the live broadcast) often boost lower-rated shows into respectable territory, especially since it is often people in the desired advertising demographic (18-49 yrs old) that most use DVRs.
In fact, since the introduction of Tivo and other cable-provider DVRs, the most popular shows for DVR use have been those shows that appeal to a younger, hipper crowd, usually those with a sci-fi bent. For example, Lost, Fringe, Chuck and Heroes all received major bumps in total ratings after DVR views were added, with the latter three often saved from cancellation because of the DVR number. Shows that are buzzed about, shows that require multiple viewing to pick up all the clues, shows that are in difficult time slots tend to be the most DVR friendly shows. Well, a bit of news has turned those characterizations on their ear.
On Monday, Nielsen (the official ratings folks) announced their final ratings numbers for the first week of the new fall season, and the most DVR'ed show was...Hawaii Five-0! This remake of a semi-successful 1970's cop procedural, that, while yes, received a bit of buzz, has no bankable stars, no deeper mysteries that require rewatches, and is in a relatively non-competitive time-slot, garnered 3.374 million additional viewers thanks to DVR usage. According to Nielsen, this was not only the most DVR'ed program of the week, it was the most DVR'ed program ever. Adding this number to the show's live number of 14.213 million viewers, Hawaii Five-0 received a total of 17.587 million pairs of eyeballs, the highest-rated new show of the season, and a Top 10 show overall. Why, though, were there so many DVR viewers?
The head of CBS' research department, David Poltrack, thinks it is because Hawaii Five-0 is geared toward men (hello guns, explosions and Grace Park in a bikini), and airs against Monday Night Football, a large attention-grabber for men. While the game that aired that night specifically, New Orleans vs. San Francisco, didn't necessarily have national appeal (like last night's NY Jets vs. Minnesota "Return of Favre" game did due to Favre's return to face his old team, and the sex scandal surrounding the quarterback), it did feature the reigning Super Bowl champion in a game that remained tight until the end. Poltrock also mentioned that CBS' The Mentalist, the second-most-DVR'ed program this season, also sees such high DVR numbers because it airs Thursdays at 10pm. There are a lot of very popular shows Thursdays 9pm, so people time shift a 9pm program to 10pm (when The Mentalist airs), and then shift The Mentalist to a later time.
I find this all very intriguing, and very important. With the proliferation of quality television across the cable box, more and more conflicts arise in certain time slots. DVR usage will only increase due to this fact. It is unfair to penalize shows that have a major part of their audience watches them at a later time, so these DVR numbers must be included to see which shows are doing best. Advertisers are reluctant to use the Live+7 figure because they insist people don't watch commercials when fast-forwarding past them during a DVR viewing, thereby negating the reason they pay the networks the big bucks for these ads. This complaint is faulty for two reasons, though.
First, it assumes that people actually watch commercials during live programs. Yes, some people leave the commercials on, but more often people get up to get a drink or food, or flip to another channel, therefore missing the commercials totally. Second, it assumes that viewers don't retain what they see while fast-forwarding. I know that I see the product of every commercial I zoom past, mostly because I am looking so intently at the screen to make sure I don't blast past the show. When fast-forwarding, I'm not getting up to go do something else. Plus, if the advertiser is creative enough, I'll stop my fast-forwarding to specifically watch the commercial. This has been the case with the clever ads that appear in Mad Men style during that show. If anything, advertisers may end up finding they are better off with DVR viewing in the not-too-distant future.
So, what do you think about Hawaii Five-0 being the most DVR'ed show ever? Would you have guessed it to be something else? Perhaps The Event (which was the second-highest new show to be DVR'ed, but tied for fifth overall)? Do you own and use a DVR? What are your favorite shows to watch at a later time? Do you think Nielsen should be using these Live+7 numbers exclusively, or should Hulu and other online viewings count too? Drop your comments below or in our Forum, and be sure to check regularly with TVOvermind for all of your TV news and notes.