Loving DVRs, Not (Most) Ads

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Digital-video recorder vendors often boast about the devices improving the TV viewing experience, but can a DVR actually make someone’s life better?

According to some respondents in a Forrester Research survey, titled “Inside the Mind of The DVR User,” apparently it can.

Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff said that in response to an open-ended question on the survey of 588 DVR users, four or five people said the devices had improved their life. Another 19% volunteered the word “love” when describing what they thought of their DVR.

“The level of loyalty and passion these people have about digital video recorders is unprecedented in anything I’ve seen in seven years of research,” Bernoff said.

While most DVR users appear to like the technology, the bad news, which won’t surprise many, is that they skip most of ads on programs they record.

Participants in the Forrester survey reported that they skipped 92% of the ads in recorded or delayed programming (which is most of what they watch). About 30% said they watch no commercials.

Forrester said movie ads and promotions for upcoming shows were skipped the least by DVR users. Respondents said they watch less than one in 10 ads for credit cards, long-distance carriers, car dealers and banks.

Bernoff suggested one of the best ways networks can prevent DVR users from skipping ads is to “create every possible reason to watch programs in real time,” through things like ITV. He cited ABC’s efforts to add interactivity to its programs as a good example.

Some longer ads that make viewers think they’re watching a regular TV show — such as the two-minute spots NBC recently ran featuring Olympic athletes driving in Chevrolet cars and trucks — are also effective, Bernoff said.

Bernoff said satellite firms EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. are ahead of cable companies when it comes to DVR rollouts, and the industry needs to focus on wide DVR rollouts. “I think operators need to embrace digital video recorders and make them a standard part of digital cable,” he added.

Forrester also found:

  • DVR users spend nearly 60% of their time watching recorded or delayed programs.
  • DVR penetration, currently at 5% of U.S. households, will grow to 41% within five years.
  • Less than 2% of DVR subscribers have stopped using them.
  • Real-time viewing drops by 60% for DVR users, while sporting events and evening newscasts garner the most real-time viewing.