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No TiVolution At Nielsen

After years of griping that Nielsen was not measuring viewing on TiVo-like digital video recorders (DVRs), TV-network and ad execs finally got their wish. Nielsen's new ratings including DVR data popped out last week, and the results were, well, underwhelming.

On broadcast TV, the big winner—and we use the word “big” with tongue firmly in cheek—was ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which picked up an astoundingly small 40 additional viewers when the same-day playback was factored in. (It usually averages 10 million total viewers.) CBS' Criminal Minds was credited with 24 extra viewers; Medium was tabbed with 23. The most played-back show on TV was a repeat of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on USA Network, which mustered 45 extra viewers for a Dec. 30 episode.

Nielsen warned clients that results would be nothing spectacular. That's because there are only 60 DVR homes in the 10,000-household national ratings sample. Nielsen plans to add 100 DVR households per month until it reaches 700-1,000 DVR users.

But even now, if the networks slice and dice the ratings—as they so often do—most will find some new bragging right. Of network sitcoms, CBS can boast its freshman comedy Out of Practice was the most played back. It had eight additional viewers!

Repeats We Really Watch

While we're on the subject of repeat viewing, there's some new data from Magna Global's data-cruncher Steve Sternberg that could serve as guidance for station managers pondering which off-net series to acquire in syndication.

Sternberg indexed the viewership of the original episodes of selected broadcast series in the 2004-05 season with viewership when the episode was repeated later. There are some eye-popping results in the 18-49 demo. (A score of 100 is super. A 48, which is what ER got, is not.)

On the plus side, there appears to be a reason Warner Bros. is so high on the syndication prospects for CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. Its repeat index is a very respectable 81.

Another high scorer is George Lopez (80), which goes into syndication in 2007. According to Jim grabs a spectacular 98; it dives into syndication this fall. King of the Hill scores a perfect 100. That animated series, already in syndication, does solid numbers.

One sleeper on the chart is House, which also scored a 100 on Sternberg's repeat scale; no drama was close to that. Syndication rights to it were sold jointly to NBC Universal's USA and Bravo networks starting in 2008, the same time it can also start on broadcast stations.