PVR users still watch ads: TVB

A new study from the Television Bureau of Canada says PVR users still pause for ads that interest them; Media Experts' Carol Cummings weighs in.

PVRs may allow people to watch their favourite programs whenever they want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they skip all the ads once the power to fast-forward is in their hands, a new report from the Television Bureau of Canada (TVB) indicates.

The report, released this week, indicates that although people hit the skip button when ad breaks interrupt their programming, TV viewers will stop to watch ads that interest them – a finding contrary to popular opinion that PVR users avoid commercials entirely.

Conducted in July 2010 by BBM Analytics, the TVB survey polled 1,000 Canadians about their digital-TV watching habits, homing in on those people in the survey who reported subscribing to digital cable (63.6%), and owning a PVR (38%). It found that 45.4% of adults over the age of 18 said they stopped to watch commercials of interest to them when watching recorded programs, a percentage that rose to 51.9% when 35- to 49-year-olds were broken out and 54.6% for 35- to 54-year-olds. The main reasons people reported for watching TV ads were entertainment value (42.9%) and interest in the product (41.3%).

Sixty-six percent of PVR-owning survey respondents also said that when watching recorded programs, they are aware of the advertisers being featured in commercials even as they are skipping through them. The report also noted that, according to BBM data, the majority of poeple still watch TV programs in real time.

Although not entirely surprising, the results of the survey are ‘good news’ for the TV industry, Carol Cummings, director of television services, Media Experts, tells MiC.

‘I don’t find these statistics surprising at all as they mirror my own personal viewing habits with my PVR,’ she says. ‘I probably view more PVR-recorded programming than the norm but I do stop and view commercials that interest me. This is very good news for the TV industry – the 30-second commercial is still very much alive and well.’

The findings fall in opposition to the January 2010 Consumerology report by Toronto ad agency Bensimon Byrne. That study found that ‘it is common practice’ for viewers to fast-forward through ‘all’ commercials, and even through segments of programming that bore them.

Both reports pegged PVR ownership in Canada in the 20% to 30% range, with the Bensimon Byrne report noting that almost half of Canadian households earning $100,000 or more own a PVR, and that newer immigrants are also more likely to own one.