Yes, we realise it’s the cool smart thing to say whenever anyone suggests that DVRs will screw the TV networks: “No, actually, it will help TV networks because DVR users watch more TV.” (eMarketer, for example, repeats this dumb argument today). Unfortunately, because TV networks don’t generate revenue from viewers watching more TV unless they also watch more ads, whether viewers watch more TV is irrelevant.
The reason NBC is hooking people to medical devices to prove that skipped ads are still effective is because people who have DVRs often skip ads. According to eMarketer, one-quarter of households will have DVRs by the end of this year. Lots of these households, we reckon, will skip ads.
Another dumb point often made by those who argue that DVRs are good for TV networks: “Advertising spending is growing even as DVR penetration increases.” Why is this logic flawed? Because just because the TV networks have managed to persuade advertisers that their ad money isn’t being wasted doesn’t mean it’s not being wasted.
What will it take for DVRs to be good for TV networks? Proof that households with DVRs watch more ads than they did before they got DVRs. (Not that DVR households watch more ads than non-DVR households–DVR households watch more TV in general, so this isn’t surprising).