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October 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Michael Nathanson

The DVR has slowed, if not halted, the exodus of viewers from broadcast TV to cable, a study by Nomura Securities analyst Michael Nathanson would seem to indicate. The study, covering DVR viewing over the past four years, found that viewers use their DVRs to watch broadcast TV shows via the devices about half the time — but only about a quarter of the time when it comes to cable TV shows. Overall, DVR viewing boosted the ratings for broadcast TV 9.7 percent over live-only viewing during the 2010-11 season versus just 3 percent in the 2008-09 season, according to the study. Moreover, Nathanson found that viewers of broadcast TV shows do not skip commercials as often as viewers of cable shows. Indeed, ad skipping among DVR viewers has dropped overall. Broadcasting & Cable magazine quoted Nathanson as saying, “Perhaps most interesting is how the DVR never lived up to its initial expectations. Four years ago, when Nielsen first began tracking time-shifted viewing, the skip factor averaged 59 percent and 53 percent at broadcast and cable networks, respectively, with pundits [predicting] the end of commercial viewing. … Five years later, with DVR penetration at 37 percent (up from 21 percent in 2007), skipping has decreased 800 basis points and 100 basis points at broadcast and cable nets. Now who would have guessed that?” (A basis point equals 0.01 percent.)