As TV Viewers Time-Shift, What’s the Implication for Ad Avoidance?

March 5, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

Television | TV Advertising | TV Audiences & Consumption | Video | Youth & Gen X

HubEntertainmentResearch-Top-Reasons-Time-Shifting-TV-Shows-Mar2015TV viewers claim to spend a slight majority (53%) of their viewing time with time-shifted rather than live (47%) content, according to a recent report [download page] from Hub Entertainment Research. While that runs counter to Nielsen figures, which find live TV to be the predominant form of consumption, there’s no doubt that time-shifted viewing is on the rise, an unsurprising trend given that 3 in 4 TV households now have access to at least one on-demand service. So what does this mean for ad avoidance?

The Hub Entertainment Research survey – which was conducted among 1,210 TV viewers aged 16-74 who watch at least 5 hours of TV per week and who have broadband access at home – finds that ad avoidance is a factor in time-shifting, but not the main one. When asked the biggest benefits of watching episodes of a current show at a later time, a leading 60% of respondents cited the convenience of watching on their own time. By comparison, the benefit of skipping ads was cited by significantly fewer (37%), although that was on par with the ability to see missed episodes.

Interestingly, among Millennials, who estimate spending even more of their TV viewing time with time-shifted content, ad avoidance was less commonly cited as a benefit. Only 29% cited the ability to skip ads as a top reason for watching shows later. Instead, Millennials were more likely to point to their unavailability during live airing.

While those results suggest that time-shifting will not have a huge impact on ad attention, other results from the survey are more worrisome for advertisers. For example, among the 55% of respondents who are able to fast-forward through commercials (on some or all networks), 81% reported fast-forwarding through every commercial (49%) or most commercials (32%). Similarly, among those who record shows using a DVR, 9 in 10 fast-forward through commercials all (56%) or most (34%) of the time.

Those are sobering statistics for advertisers, particularly as earlier research has found more encouraging survey results for advertisers when it comes to commercial viewing frequency among a different subset of the viewing population, multi-screeners. As data in MarketingCharts’ report on TV viewing and advertising attests, media multi-taskers actually claim to be more likely to watch ads than the typical adult. And even among young multi-screeners, TV ads are viewed more favorably than ads on digital devices, and more likely to be paid attention to, according to survey results.

Nevertheless, the Hub Entertainment Research study results suggest that as time-shifting continues apace, “ad avoidance is a force to be reckoned with.”

Finally, it’s worth noting that a separate study [pdf] recently released by Defy Media found that compared to online video, young adults find scheduled TV to be less likely to have ads they can easily ignore, but more likely to have too many ads.

Other Findings:

  • 53% of all time-shifting occurs through a DVR (34%) or VOD (19%).
  • Among those who use VOD at least once a week, an estimated 46% of all TV shows are watched live. The comparable figure for DVR users is 43%, while for those who use Hulu Plus and Netflix, it’s just 17%.
  • 41% of respondents feel that having fast-forward disabled on VOD is a major “frustration.”
  • Drama and movies are the most-watched program types among viewers overall, as well as those who do most of their time-shifting via DVR and those who do most via VOD.

About the Data: The Hub Entertainment Research survey was completed in February 2015.

The Defy Media survey was fielded among a representative sample of 1,350 13-24-year-olds.

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