Over the course of television advertising history, with the possible exception of the Big Football Game, there has been the general feeling that given a choice, viewers would skip the commercials. Whether they go to the bathroom or the refrigerator or check their text messages, they’re not watching ads. Now there is evidence that given the choice to skip commercials on DVR, viewers are choosing to watch. None other than the Nielsen Company, famed for its commitment to tracking viewing habits, has determined that even with remote in hand, couch potatoes are watching the commercials. It isn’t clear if all ad watching translates to product buying but the idea that people don’t skip the ads on DVR is generating interest. All of which is leading TV producers to begin counting those numbers when deciding on advertising rates.
Such shows as “House,” “Heroes,” “Fringe” and “Flash Forward,” have all gained significant ratings during playback. At a time when it is no longer necessary to be chained to a couch in order to see favorite shows, such ad watching on DVR is good news for advertisers. It shows that creativity can overcome all sorts of obstacles. At the same time, research also shows that ad skippers are more likely to be watchers of popular shows. It isn’t clear what this says about those Nielsen ratings. Obviously not every ad is a welcome sight, although if they are fun and engaging people may just watch. In France where movie theaters announce the time devoted to ads, people still show up early to see the ads. Perhaps the true judge of advertising triumphing over attempts to evade it will be the day that viewers, en masse, skip the shows and just watch the ads. Some may already be doing this.