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Are DVR Watchers Skipping Fewer Commercials?

By Alyssa Rosenberg  

"Are DVR Watchers Skipping Fewer Commercials?"

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Via Deadline, a report that notes declining viewership for broadcast television even with DVRed viewing within three days, has one positive observation:

Still, Nathanson has some encouraging news for networks concerned that ad skipping will become a lot more commonplace as the number of DVR households grows from 40% now to 47% expected in 2015. New users don’t appear to be as fast on the trigger: The percentage of broadcast commercials skipped by DVR users dropped to 46.7% in the 2011/2012 season from 58.8% in 2007/2008. For cable, 50.4% of the ads were skipped this past season vs. 52.8% in 2007/2008.

There are some elements of the cost of television that are obviously inflated, like escalating carriage fees that aren’t driven by climbing costs of operations and maintenance. But the labor that it takes to put together a television production that genuinely looks good isn’t cheap, and you can see the difference between productions where people are working for scale, and where someone’s hired the full complement of staff needed to make things work, and productions that aren’t working with a full lighting crew, or who are working under waivers from the guilds to pay less than scale, a practice that isn’t sustainable and shouldn’t be what we expect. In other words, there are probably some cost savings television could achieve, but the productions themselves are probably not going to get less expensive, and certainly not if we want television to tackle the kind of grand-sweep stories that have often been the provenance of television precisely because of their costs.

The choice, as it’s always been, is going to be paying more for content up front, whether for something like Hulu Plus or cable, or accepting a lot more monetization of our content. I’d like to think folks are watching ads they have the capacity to skip with their DVRs because they recognize it’s a way of keeping the shows they love in business by convincing advertisers they’re still going to capture impressions. But if laziness gets folk sitting through more commercials, I suppose I’ll take that, too.

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