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TV viewers not skipping commercials

Fewer DVR users than expected are fast-forwarding through the ads, but they may be getting snacks along with the no-DVR crowd.

By Teresa Mears Dec 21, 2010 5:44PM

Here's a surprise: Nearly 40% of U.S. homes have the technology to fast-forward past the commercials while watching TV shows, but many of them don't, according to two new studies.



We are. We have a digital video recorder (DVR), and we fast-forward through nearly all the commercials. Well, unless we're in the kitchen getting a drink, or getting the laundry out of the dryer or checking e-mail.


You can see how a few commercials would slip through.


"Some people still say, 'Nobody watches commercials.' That's not true," Patricia McDonough, a senior vice president at the Nielsen Co., told The New York Times.


A recent Nielsen report (.pdf file) found that 38.1% of U.S. homes have DVRs, which most people rent from their cable company for $5 to $15 per month. The technology, popularized by TiVO, allows you to record TV shows and watch them whenever you want, fast-forwarding through commercials if you choose. Nielsen's data indicates many people who tape shows still play the commercials.


A second study, in this month's Journal of Marketing Research, found that DVR use had no effect on consumers' buying behavior. That study, too, found that fewer people than expected fast-forward through commercials.


"Companies are afraid of a 'TiVO effect' and are changing their media spending as a result," Carl Mela, a Duke University business school professor, told the Triangle Business Journal. "But we find no change in people's shopping patterns when we compare a group that has TiVO with a group that doesn't."


The Nielsen study found that a significant number of 18- to 49-year-olds who play back their recorded shows don't skip the commercials.


But are they watching them?


Maybe not, Don Seaman, of the media agency MPG, told the Times:

However, they're also the ones most likely to be media multitasking -- texting, Facebooking, etc., during the commercials, using that as 'down time' to do other things until the commercial is over. Are we saying that they're too lazy to pick up the remote to fast-forward? Far from it. They're probably likely using commercials as a timing device to know when to pay attention to the TV again.

Which is just what the customers watching TV without DVRs are doing. This could explain why consumer purchasing is less affected by DVRs than advertisers had expected.


More from MSN Money:

Dec 22, 2010 10:34AM
We have a DVR and usually fast forward through commercials.  However, we do watch some of them for the humor factor.  Like some of the insurance commercials.  We ALWAYS fast forward through those stupid, useless pharmaceutical ads.  I refuse to even give those ads a moment of my attention.  Prescription meds are not something that I can go purchase, so I see no point in advertising them on TV.  One's doctor should be the one recieving ads for medicine, not the everyday consumer.
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