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It’s estimated that currently only about 12% of U.S. homes have digital video recorders. This is according to “unofficial” Nielsen estimates, but that doesn’t mean that this fraction of America’s television viewers isn’t having a pretty significant impact on the ratings of some of the more popular TV shows.
According to USA Today, Nielsen recently began monitoring the playback on DVRs and by their results; it’s had a pretty significant impact on the ratings. Show’s like ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Lost,’ ‘Survivor,’ and ‘House’ are among the top rated TV shows this fall. They’re also among the shows that are most commonly DVRed and played back at a later time.
When Nielsen measured the playback rate of 'House', they found that about 1.4 million viewers played back the episodes on their DVR after the show aired in its normal timeslot. That’s an increase of 10.% in the viewership. The ratings for the season premiere of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ increased by 8% and ‘The Office’ ratings increased by 11% when factoring in the number of people who watched the show later on in the week. Thursday nights are likely to have a higher rate of DVRed shows considering the number of worth-watching shows that air between 8:00 and 11:00 pm.
The boost in ratings due to DVR playbacks will certainly help the networks to better gage the popularity of a show but as of right now, the DVR ratings wont be having an affect on advertising sales. Due to the ability to fast-forward through commercials, advertisers don’t benefit from DVR viewers ratings.