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Cable Becomes The DVR Of Choice

Digital Recorders: Time in a Magical Box
The Carmel Group, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.

Cable systems have taken over as the top providers of residential digital video recorder service, according to a study released last week by The Carmel Group.

Fifty-two percent of DVR penetration is now held by cable operators, with direct-broadcast satellite-provided recorders in 38% of DVR homes, according to the study. Cable’s DVR penetration is 17.6 million homes, or three in 10 cable households, while direct-broadcast satellite-provided DVR subscribers are in 10 million homes, translating into a 40% penetration rate.

The study also identifies a significant marketing target: upscale, well-educated women aged 35 to 54. Research indicates that DVR service appears to be poorly marketed to women in general, and to ethnicities. The majority of DVR users: white men.

Of respondents, 76% are currently DVR users. Those who resist DVR service cite cost (42%); viewership that is too low to justify the expense (28%); and the lack of interest in the technical capabilities of a DVR (18%). Twelve percent said their provider doesn’t offer DVR service.

Respondents ranked DVR service third on their list of “must haves” from their provider, following Internet access services and local broadcast channels.

Those who do use DVRs say they watch more TV than when they didn’t have a recorder. While users are generally negative to ads (four in 10 said they skip all commercials), they are more receptive to interactive messages. They said the most effective ads would be customized to the individual.

The Carmel Group estimates that DVRs will be in 52.5 million households by 2010, 46% of the expected universe. Of those, 61% will be provided through the cable operators, followed by DBS with 32% of the market, 6% by telephone/video providers and 2% by others like TiVo.

Study results reflect a survey of 2,586 consumers in May of 2005 and 1,800 consumers in January and February of 2006. The company said the margin of error for the study is “the low single digits.”