Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DVRs Are Saving TV Shows

As I and others have written, the DVR is actually good for TV viewing, cable subscription and ad revenue. Consumers have been wanting more control of their viewing and prefer to watch what they want, when they want. It is what has made both the DVR and on demand an indispensable part of the TV experience. And consumers utilize that experience, enjoying the sit back nature of the big screen TV. DVRs offer the flexibility of watching when it is convenient to the viewer and not to the schedule. And brings in viewers that might not have sampled the show when it was on live. "On Monday NBC, renewed 'Parenthood' and Fox renewed 'Fringe,' but not on the strength of the shows ratings when they first air. The crucial factor for both these shows was the viewers they drew on DVR over the week after they debuted. When accounting for a week of DVR, ratings for both shows spiked more than 40 percent. This sends a message to the networks that the shows have broad reach and the potential to really take off." And in most cases, viewers are still watching the ads, even on DVR.

Still, as this week's upfronts have shown, the networks have done a good bit of bloodletting, dropping freshman shows left and right. Not that any of these shows were great, but the challenge is to find the ones that have the potential to be great. Both "Cheers" and "Seinfeld" were ratings losers in their first year(s), but some executive believed in them and let them continue. The result, two long running, successful sitcoms. With so much competition from cable and the web, shows need more support and better marketing to help them break through the clutter. The DVR can offer proof that viewers who save them for later viewing have a real interest in them. So congrats to the DVR, you went from being feared by the programmers to being hailed the hero.