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TiVo Says Timeshifted TV Lags New Ratings Metric

Digital video recorder (DVR) supplier TiVo, which has been trying to build a separate audience measurement business through its Stop||Watch ratings service, says that TiVo customers watched over half of the January 2009 primetime season premieres on a timeshifted basis. It also says that a significant percentage watched the shows more than three days after their initial airing, falling outside of the "C3" ratings metric adopted in 2007 by measurement giant Nielsen to incorporate timeshifted viewing into the ratings picture.

TiVo, which pulls its Stop||Watch data from a daily sample of 100,000 TiVo subscribers, says that six of the seven network season premieres in January drew at least 50% of their audiences on a timeshifted basis, and that Lost and 24 led the pack with 67% and 64% of their viewers, respectively, watching on their own schedule. American Idol had 60% of its viewers watching on a timeshifted basis. The show also scored the highest timeshifted rating at 11.5, with Lost and 24 coming in second and third at 10.7 and 8.9, respectively.

TiVo had some interesting findings relating to the relevance of the C3 metric. TiVo says that 27% of viewers that watched Lost on a timeshifted basis did so between three days and two weeks after it originally aired, and that Friday Night Lights and 24 both saw 20% of their viewers wait at least three days before watching the programs as well.

"The industry acquiescence to C3 ratings for the majority of business that gets transacted has often been described as a great compromise," said Todd Juenger, Vice President & General Manager, TiVo Audience Research & Measurement, in a statement. "‘Compromise' is an appropriate descriptor - the measurement of commercial audiences is compromised (every spot in a program is assigned the same rating), and the measurement of programs is compromised - in this example, one of the leading program franchises (ABC's Lost) has more than a quarter of its audience totally disregarded from the advertising equation (in fact, 8% of audience for Lost and 24 falls between 7-14 days timeshifted, as measured by the Stop||Watch ratings service, which is beyond the window the currency even bothers to measure). As DVRs proliferate, and other forms of on-demand program access also grow, the industry will need to embrace new measurement paradigms for the billions of dollars at stake."