What impact is PVR use having on TV viewing in NZ?

By Rebecca Lloyd

What impact is PVR use having on TV viewing in NZ? It’s a big question and by next year, we should know the answer.  Nielsen have announced that they are going to be able to monitor and report on “time shifted viewing” in NZ.

With the new technology Nielsen are introducing we’ll get data which will include ratings for PVR viewing when programmes are viewed in full (ie no skipping ads) up to one week after they were recorded, but if any part of the programme is skipped then the ratings aren’t counted.

It is inevitable that we are going to see a change in ratings delivered through TV buys.  20% of households in NZ are estimated to have PVR’s, and Nielsen’s sample of peoplemeter households will reflect this.  However Nielsen are increasing the sample size from 500 to 600 households (the additional 100 households will be those with PVR’s), rather than taking out some of the existing households and replacing with PVR households, to try to minimize the impact from a sample change – we would notice ratings fluctuations from changing out base sample households alone, even without taking into account the impact PVR use has on viewing patterns.

Nielsen also quoted statistics from the US which suggests that time shifted viewing may not have as huge an impact on TV ratings as some may be expecting.  Only 6% of total US TV viewing is time shifted.  PVR’s are estimated to be in 35% of households in the US, and in these homes 20% of TV viewing is time shifted.  The surprising thing is that 47% of time shifted views are of the programmes in full, without skipping ad breaks – so it will be interesting to see if NZ viewers enjoy ads as much, or are as technologically naïve, as US viewers!

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