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TV Viewers Don't Need DVR to Avoid Ads

In a recent survey of consumers, ABI Research found that one in four online consumers use a digital video recorder (DVR), with the vast majority of these furnished by a pay-TV service provider.

While DVRs were made famous by TiVo, the broadcast video service provider is becoming the primary supplier of time-shifting technology to consumers in the form of an advanced set-top box, and the survey results shed new light on user's habits and preferences.

"The market for DVR is fairly mature," said Michael Wolf, research director at ABI Research. "While just a few years ago many consumers still did not have a firm grasp of the benefit DVRs would bring them, today the concept of DVR and time-shifting is fairly well understood. That being said, adoption levels are still fairly dependent on service provider rollouts and whether consumers are interested in paying additional fees for the benefits of a DVR."

The survey showed that both TiVo and service provider DVR customers are just as likely to skip most commercials. Nearly four of five TiVo customers and over 82 percent of pay-TV service provider DVR customers indicated they skip all or most commercials.

Both types are also likely to record significant amounts of TV per day, with nearly half of TiVo owners indicating they recorded two or more hours per day while 43 percent of service provider DVR owners recording a similar amount of shows.

"Our research has found that behavior in usage of DVRs is similar regardless of who provides it, or the demographic profile of the user," said Wolf. "While there are slight variations in usage based on age and income, once you put the technology in their hands the vast majority of consumers show similar behavior."

However, surely advertisers realize that television viewers don't need a DVR to ignore their commercials. I believe that while technology enables easier ad avoidance, by skipping past the video segment, the vast majority of consumers without DVRs mentally tune-out during TV advertising.

In the U.S. market, the typical level of originality and creativity that's applied in producing these mainstream TV commercials is likely the primary cause of consumer behavior and irreverence, not merely the application of time-shift technology.

The business justification for TV advertising investment was in rapid decline long before the VCR and DVR came into the equation. Apparently, brand advertisers refuse to acknowledge this trend, or seek help to overcome their denial of the obvious implications.

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