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Time-Shifting Bridges TV’s Generation Gap

The State of the Media Democracy

Deloitte Services

Digital video recorder ownership is popular across generational groups, although “millennials” and members of “Generation X” use the technology the most for their viewing, according to a recent study from Deloitte Services.

Though 24% of millennials, or consumers aged 13 to 24, and 31% of Gen Xers, or 25-to-41-year-olds, said they own a DVR, purchase and use of the device is also strong among baby boomers (aged 42 to 60) and matures (61 to 75).

Twenty-six percent of boomers own the device, as do 21% of the matures polled, although the latter group still does the largest portion of their viewing live (19%). Xers are the most enthusiastic users of digital time-shifting: 73% said they watch half or more of their televised content using the DVR.

The poll respondents said they are attracted to DVRs because they can create their own TV-watching schedules.

The second-most mentioned reason was the DVR’s ability to record TV programs when they can’t watch them live. Next-highest reasons were its ability to skip commercials and to record a show while watching a different program in real time.

One set of responses that will be of interest to advertisers: Nearly as many DVR users say they watch commercials (22%) as said they use their DVR to avoid them (23%). Avoiders said they either fast-forward or let them play with the “mute” function activated. Users also let the commercials run but “take a break,” while 14% leave the room altogether.

Regarding TV in general, 79% of respondents said their top topic of discussion with their friends is their favorite TV shows; 46% said they discuss promising new shows; and 38% patronize fan Web sites.

Analyzing the poll feedback, the report concludes that Gen Xers and “leading millennials” aged 13 to 18 are the best marketing targets for future media content. (Trailing millennials, aged 19-24 are interested in content, but have less control over their households’ media purchases, the study said.) Boomers will turn to media in search of new interests as their nests empty out, and providers that can offer matures topics of interest in comfortable formats can reap greater revenues from members of that group.

The poll was fielded by the Harrison Group, a Connecticut independent-research firm, which collected data from Feb. 23 to March 6. The results were culled from 2,200 U.S. online consumers to create a wide-ranging report on Internet, wireless-device and television usage. Because the poll was conducted via the Web, the respondents are predisposed toward technology, the pollsters noted.