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Poltrack: Network Ad Model Still Strong

With digital video recorder penetration on the rise and Nielsen soon to institute ratings for commercials, CBS Corp. Chief Research Officer and CBS Vision President David Poltrack made his case Monday that the network advertising model is still strong.

Poltrack made the pitch to a gathering of reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena.

Poltrack cited research saying that primetime viewership during commercials drops only five percent on average during a network television show, while that number is as high as 10 percent on cable.  However, the figures he cited were from the recent May 2006 sweep, so the gap may be a bit smaller when using year-round totals.

Outside of prime time, daytime has the least amount of drop-off at only 1%, mornings average 6%, late night 9%, evening news only 2% and sports 4%.

Poltrack also echoed the view of other networks that the new Nielsen system of making ratings during commercial breaks available will have little effect on the model, as those figures have actually been available to networks and advertisers since the 1980’s and are already factored into the marketplace.

Poltrack also said that within households with DVRs, only 10% of viewing is done in playback mode overall, though that number rises to 18% in prime-time.  He said that was much less than the 40% number that many had projected previously.

Poltrack also said that the average network show actually sees a 5% bump in audience due to DVR playback.  Therefore, even with the large amount of people who fast forward through commercials, Poltrack said that commercial viewing numbers re up 4% overall thanks to DVRs.

“The message is clear,” he says. “Broadcast networks will offer advertisers more exposure for their advertisements as more people get DVRs.”

Poltrack put the current DVR penetration figure at 9%