DVR may be behind primetime ratings woes

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The theory that growing DVR usage is to blame for the mysterious ratings malaise gripping primetime got some new credence from a Nomura Equity Research analysis.

A comparison of audience figures in the 18-49 demo drawn from live and C3 viewing over the first quarter of 2012 versus the same period the previous year revealed a dramatic difference. The 22% plunge registered by the Big Four in live shrinks to just 8% when the first three days of DVR usage is factored into the rating. And even that level of decline is likely overstated largely because of the sizable drop-off this season in TV's most watched series, Fox's "American Idol." In recent weeks, many of TV's most popular series, from "Modern Family" to "NCIS," have been experiencing either series or season lows. While everything from daylight savings time to warm weather have been cited as factors, increased DVR usage has also been mentioned as a factor. Fox was feeling the live downturn most of all with a 46% drop in live viewing compared with the first quarter of last year due to both the decline of "Idol" and the absence of the Super Bowl, which it aired in February 2011. With C3 accounted for, that loss drops to 33%.


DVR may be behind primetime ratings woes