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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 22, 2014

Time-shifted TV: TiVo Says Broadcasters Losing Millions in Ad Revenue

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

A new look at time-shifted primetime TV viewing from TiVo (News - Alert) Research, studying what was watched between four to seven days after a program's live airing (Live+4 to Live+7), has revealed large increases in commercial viewership when the ratings windows are increased beyond the three-day mark. It’s a finding that could have ramifications on advertising models going forward.

The analysis, covering a wide range of networks and programs, revealed exact second-by-second program and commercial rating increases from five to 17 percent by extending the measurement window to four to seven days after broadcast. For instance, looking specifically at the commercial rating for ABC's Modern Family, TiVo Research saw an increase of 10.9 percent by adding viewership from four to seven days after the telecast.

The issue is that viewing of commercials for time-shifted content are not captured in the current three-days-after-broadcast metric, known as C3 (News - Alert)—so TV networks are therefore not compensated under the existing model. Broadcasters in particular have a lot the most to lose out on, TiVo found.

In the Modern Family example, based on network television ad prices, as supplied to TiVo by SQAD LLC for this project, 10.9 percent equates to a per-spot increase of $26,665. Extrapolating to a single season, based on an average of 17 spots per episode and full season of 24 first-run programs, the popular family sitcom is missing out on an estimated $10.9 million in revenue per year.

"Our unique commercial audience data demonstrates the real opportunity costs created by the gaping holes in the current C3 ratings currency and how filling in the blanks can help inform negotiations in this year's upfront," said Jonathan Steuer, chief research officer at TiVo. “Commercial ratings based on second-by-second viewing data not measured by the ratings currency are the only way to capture user behavior in a DVR environment accurately, and therefore the only way to assess the potential value that could be unlocked by going deeper than the ratings currency."

Conventional industry wisdom says that the average-commercial-minute measurement that the ratings currency provides allows networks to gain back some of the advantage advertisers get from unmeasured viewership beyond the three-day window.  

Steuer disagrees, “The reality is that only an extended measurement approach that combines both precise measurement of media viewership and a comprehensive understanding of audience composition can enable networks and advertisers to evaluate what commercial ratings truly are over the course of a seven day viewing period."

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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