Gadgets TV

TiVo Statistics on Commercial Skipping for May 2009

TiVo: those who have never owned one will never understand. Those who have used a generic DVR think they understand, but they really don’t.

One benefit that many TiVo enthusiasts love to speak about is their ability to fast-forward through commercials. This has led to some advertisers trying to make their ads “TiVo-Friendly”, so that the core message of the spot will still be conveyed, even as the rest of the commercial goes by in a blur. As an example, you may have seen some movie ads that have the name of the movie displayed at the top of the screen for the duration of the commercial. TiVo users may not see the commercial content, but they know what the commercial was for.

Heck, even NBC CONDUCTED A STUDY THAT PROVED TIVO and DVR USERS DO PAY ATTENTION TO COMMERCIALS. In part, it’s because users who are fast-forwarding through the commercials end up watching the screen intently focused on when the commercial break stops, and if they happen to see an interesting commercial whiz by, they’ll rewind back to watch it.


Watching Live

  1. American Idol (5.0 share)
  2. American Idol (4.6)
  3. American Idol (4.6)
  4. American Idol (4.6)
  5. American Idol (4.5)
  6. American Idol (4.2)
  7. American Idol (4.1)
  8. American Idol (4.1)
  9. Dancing with the Stars (3.7)
  10. Dancing with the Stars (3.6)

No surprise that the most watched live shows were all reality-competition programs, as these generate a lot of water-cooler talk at the office the next day. TiVo is also able to break out ratings for the commercials separately from the programs, and the commercial ratings were more-or-less in line with the overall program rating.

Time Shifted Viewing

  1. Grey’s Anatomy (17.0 rating)
  2. Grey’s Anatomy (16.8)
  3. Grey’s Anatomy (16.7)
  4. American Idol (13.4)
  5. Desperate Housewives (13.3)
  6. Desperate Housewives (13.2)
  7. American Idol (13.1)
  8. American Idol (13.1)
  9. American Idol (13.1)
  10. American Idol (12.7)

Again, no surprise that programs that are purposefully recorded have an extremely high rating. People go out of their way to record something, so they will go out of their way to watch it at their convenience.

What is interesting to note, however, is that when viewing a time-shifted program, the ratings for the individual commercials dropped significantly. Commercials for the 17.0 rated Grey’s Anatomy only had a rating of 2.7. In other words, 84% of the viewing audience for that episode of Grey’s Anatomy zoomed right through the commercials.

So what commercials did viewers end up watching when they decided to watch the commercials at all? Again, TiVo has broken this information out for us into Live and Time Shifted categories.

Most Viewed Live Commercials

  1. Diet Coke
  2. Funny People (movie)
  3. Nikon D
  4. Ford Fusion Hybrid
  5. Subway
  6. Taking of Pelham 123 (movie)
  7. AT&T
  8. Kohl’s
  9. G-Force (movie)
  10. Coca-Cola Classic

Five of the above top ten commercials aired during the season finale of American Idol. And why not? That’s a captive audience.

Most Viewed Time Shifted Commercials

  1. Night at the Museum 2 (movie)
  2. Subway
  3. Taking of Pelham 123 (movie)
  4. Kohl’s
  5. Schick Quattro
  6. Land of the Lost (movie)
  7. Taken (series)
  8. The Hangover (movie)
  9. The Proposal (movie)
  10. Sprint PCS

Notice this – five of the top ten commercials were for upcoming movies.

So what does all this tell us?

That unique, time-sensitive commercials – such as those upcoming movies – will cause viewers to stop and watch. Commercials that we’ve already seen over and over and over again? Not so much. That’s one reason why everyone tends to get excited over the commercials aired during the Super Bowl – we believe that all the commercials are going to be new, unique, and interesting. Too bad we can’t see that during the rest of the year.