Many of you may be familiar with the Live+7 Neilsen ratings, which are more accurate representation of how many viewers are actually tuning in. Those ratings include DVR viewership for the first week after a show airs, and in many cases, there can be huge jumps. For instance, Fringe — a Friday night show — sees viewership jump 60 percent from DVRs. Happy Endings, likewise, sees 40 percent jumps, while Modern Family has been known to add over 3 million additional viewers once DVR viewership is accounted for.
But the reason why there is not a Live+30 ratings — accounting for DVR viewership during the first month after a show airs — is because, according to Nielsen, only about 1 percent of viewers will watch an episode after its been sitting on their DVR more than a week. Could this possibly be true? Anecdotally, it seems to square with my viewing: If a show sits on my DVR for more than a week, it’ll probably sit for more than two weeks, which means I’ll probably never get around to seeing it.
What’s a more surprising number from this study is how relatively few people time-shift. According to Nielsen, 87 percent of viewers watch their television shows live (those numbers are even higher on cable, where 93 percent watch their shows live). Moreover, another 5 percent watch the show on the same day. This does not square with my viewing habits, or anyone else I know: Most people I know time-shift. If 87 percent of people are watching live, that means they’re also probably watching most of the commercials, which means that television advertising is not in nearly as much danger as I thought.
I wonder if social media and two-screen viewing has encouraged live-watching? I suppose it’s difficult to participate on Twitter/FB in TV discussions when everyone on your timeline is watching at different times.