New York magazine reports that Conan O'Brien's new show on TBS is the top late-night show for viewers under 50...with a catch:
TBS's numbers are so-called "live plus seven" figures, which mean they counts folks who catch up on Coco within a week of each show's broadcast. Late-night shows historically haven't bragged about getting huge bumps from DVRs, but Conan seems to be an exception. [The] show seems to be adding up to 20 percent more viewership via time-shifting.
Considering that 88 percent of DVR content is watched within three days of recording, it certainly makes sense to add in time-shifted viewings. (Related, networks don't need to be as concerned about revenue, since Nielsen also points out that almost half of people do watch commercials on DVR.)
I, perhaps prematurely, predicted the death of cable not long ago. Despite the increase in people who cancel their cable subscriptions and opt to watch online content like Netflix and Hulu, it seems like cable can be saved. If anything will help, DVR will. And while providers have fought DVR -- particularly because of the ability to skip commercials -- the numbers show that many Americans maintain the same commercial viewing habits, even with new technology available. If providers are willing to offer affordable a la carte channels and the industry can accept that time-shifted viewing is a useful metric of a show's success, cable won't be going anywhere.
--Shani O. Hilton
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