Delayed Audiences Eclipse Live Viewing for 23 Shows

Increasing DVR use this season means that for more shows, delayed viewing is more than live viewing among people in the 18 to 49-year-old demographic.

An analysis of Nielsen data by Brad Adgate, senior VP for research at Horizon Media, found 23 broadcast network programs that have a higher playback rating in the demo than live rating so far this season.  Last season, there were 11 such shows. Four of those are no longer on the air.

Adgate notes that the shows at the top of the list—CBS' Big Bang Theory and ABC's Modern Family—are comedies, but that most of the shows on the list are dramas. There is also one alternative show, CBS' Survivor.

Not surprisingly, the shows with most of the playback air on nights when the competition is most fierce. Six run on Thursdays. Monday, Wednesday and Friday have four each.

Adgate says that six first-year shows have more delayed viewers than live viewers. Those are NBC's The Blacklist and Dracula, ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fox's Sleepy Hollow and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and CBS' Hostages.

The viewers who watch on a delayed basis are almost uniformly younger than those who watch live. Viewers who watch CBS' How I Met Your Mother are, on average, nearly seven years younger (43.9 years old) than the live audience.

How does that affect the people paying big bucks for commercials in these shows?

"I think advertisers want their ads seen," says Adgate. "I think live insures that better than playback. But some (not all) ads are seen when shows are time shifted."

Jessika Walsten

Jessika is an analyst for TVREV and Fabric Media. She previously served in various roles at Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV, working with the brands since 2013. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects in the media and entertainment space, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.