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Arbitron PPM Data Brings Surprises

Arbitron Inc.’s “Portable People Meters” in Houston so far have yielded two big surprises: There’s much more out-of-home viewing than previously thought and a lot less time-shifting through digital-video recorders.

The PPM data for July showed that out-of-home viewing by both men and women contributes significantly to overall TV viewing, roughly 15%, Arbitron officials told a gathering of advertisers and media buyers in Houston, as well as reporters via phone.

In terms of DVR use, only about 7% of TV viewing in DVR households was time-shifted, and 80% of time-shifted programs were viewed the same day or the next day, according to Arbitron.

“The main headline there is that the vast majority of viewing in DVR households is to live television, only 7% are watching time-shifted,” Arbitron PPM president Pierre Bouvard said.

Arbitron is running a test and market demonstration of its PPMs for radio listenership and TV viewing with a sample of roughly 2,000 in Houston, where the system’s first commercial launch will take place. Some 40-50 cable networks and 15 TV stations are participating by specially encoding their programming.

During a presentation on the initial PPM data in Houston, the news was that out-of-home viewing is so substantial that it can no longer be “discredited” or “stereotyped” as just “guys in bars,” according to Bouvard.

“Stereotyping gets exploded when you look at this data,” he added.

In fact, the biggest time for out-of-home viewing was daytime. For example, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 17.1% of male viewership in the 18-49 demographic is out of home, and for women in that age group, 16% of their viewership is out of home, according to Arbitron.

“Historically, people in the industry have typified out-of-home viewing as guys in bars: big misconception,” Bouvard said. “People have said, ‘Ah, it’s only 6%-7% of TV viewing.’ Big misconception.”

Of the top five TV outlets in terms of having the largest share of out-of-home viewing in Houston, four were cable networks, Bouvard said -- ESPN2 with 21%, FSN with 19%, WGN Superstation with 18% and The Weather Channel with 17%.

In terms of DVR usage, the most time-shifting, 9.5%, is being done to primetime programming, from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. The second-most time-shifted period, 7.9%, is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., according to Arbitron.

About 93% of TV viewing in DVR homes was to live TV, the original broadcast of programming. For time-shifted material, 60% of viewers watch it later that same day and 20% watch it the next day.

“So if you TiVoed something, either you watch it in the next day or it kind of falls off the back of the hard drive,” Bouvard said.

Comparing PPM data with Nielsen Media Research’s metered-diary data for Houston, Spanish-language stations, smaller and midsized cable channels and newer broadcast networks, like UPN and The WB Television Network, saw the biggest viewership gains -- consistent with the kinds of gains that Nielsen’s new “Local People Meters” are registering for such TV outlets.

Arbitron is looking to commercially launch its PPM service for radio stations starting next year with Houston, and then to move on to the next top 50 radio markets in the next three to five years, Bouvard said. It is continuing to talk with Nielsen about becoming part of a joint venture to offer the PPM service.

Arbitron will present its July PPM data to ad agencies in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta. The company is also in the process of getting a Media Rating Council audit for its PPMs.