Nielsen Report: Many DVR Viewers Play the Commercials

Attention, television advertisers: The digital video recorder may be a friend, not an enemy. Instead of skipping the ads, almost half of U.S. DVR viewers in the most advertising-targeted age group -- 18- to 49-year-olds -- watch television commercials on their recorded shows, according to a Nielsen poll released Tuesday.

Some 44% of 18- to 49-year-old viewers with DVRs played the commercials within three days after they first aired, boosting commercial ratings 16% among that age group overall, according to the survey. About two in five U.S. homes have a DVR.

Many in the TV advertising industry have lamented DVRs, whose numbers have doubled in the past three years as many cable and satellite-television providers began offering DVRs as part of their services.

"Contrary to fears that DVRs would wipe out the value of commercials because of viewers fast-forwarding through ads, DVRs actually contribute significantly to commercial viewing," Nielsen said in the report.

The numbers indicate that advertisers running spots during science-fiction and sitcom programming may be getting more viewers than they think. TV ratings for sci-fi shows get a 60% boost in ratings, on average, via DVR playbacks within one week of airing, while sit-coms get a 46% boost, Nielsen said.

On the other end of the spectrum, documentary ratings only received approximately a 10% increase from DVR playbacks within a week, while news programming, unsurprisingly, got a measly 8% bump, according to the report.

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