That would seem intuitive, but to folks at TV networks, it wasn’t. Instead, network folks at CBS (CBS), NBC (GE), etc., were praying that the ratings drop had to do with changes in rating methodology or increased DVR usage–which, they also argued, increased TV viewing in households that own them. So, Nielsen went back and investigated and found that the ratings drop were the result of people watching less TV. Nielsen also found more bad news for networks that debunks some of the crap they have been shoveling in recent months about how DVR-owning households watch more TV.
- Nielsen found that households that have DVRs watch less TV now than before they got them.
- The decline in ratings is most pronounced in households that watch the most TV.
IN AN EFFORT TO ADDRESS client concerns over declines in TV usage this year, Nielsen has issued a report concluding the drop most likely is due to real changes in TV viewing behaviour and is not due to TV ratings methods, or new technologies like DVD players, video game systems or digital video recorders (DVRs). But while concluding that “no single factor played a predominant role” in the declines, the Nielsen report found that the biggest impact was felt among TV’s heaviest viewing households. The report does not offer any explicit explanations as to why TV usage has declined, and Nielsen said it did not analyse the impact of changes in programming or in weather patterns that may have been a contributing factor. However, the report includes an ominous finding suggesting that the biggest impact may be among TV’s biggest users.
While the presence of DVRs in and of themselves was not deemed a contributing factor, Nielsen said that the addition of a DVR into a TV household appears to reduce overall usage levels in those households.
“The biggest losses in tuning appear to be coming from the homes that tuned the most last year,” Nielsen reported. “Some homes are tuning relatively more this year, these are generally the lowest tuning homes in the panel; the heavy tuners who acquire DVRs tend to tune less, more than offsetting these increases, resulting in overall [households using television] declines.”