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Leno is giving TiVo a rest

September 30, 2009 | 12:01 pm

The good news: More people are watching NBC live at 10 p.m. -- now that Jay Leno is in the time slot -- as opposed to recording the hour and watching it later, according to TiVo, which tracks how its 3 million customers are using their digital video recorders.


The bad news: About 20% of the people who do record Leno with their TiVo watch it within an hour of its original airing, which means in theory it is slicing into the audience for local news at 11 p.m. and Conan O'Brien at 11:30 p.m.

"While Leno is succeeding in reducing the amount of time-shifted viewing for NBC's 10 p.m. time slot, he certainly isn't 'Tivo-proof' as nearly 50% of viewing is still time-shifted," said Todd Juenger, vice president of TiVo Audience Research & Measurement. "Moreover, those time-shifted viewers are nearly twice as likely to watch within one hour, displacing NBC's 11 p.m. time slot."

Of course, anytime someone records a show and watches it later it means that they are not watching live TV at that moment (duh). Who's to say whether that 20% who are recording Leno and watching it later were Conan fans anyway or didn't get their local news from a different station? Who's to say they even usually watch television at that hour?

This is the problem with statistics. You can try to make them say anything. It's interesting to note how many TiVo users are opting to record Leno versus how many were recording NBC's dramas last season. To go beyond that and try to mind-read what those users are missing while they are catching up with Leno is a reach.

Just remember what Talking Heads once sang: "Facts all come with points of view, facts don't do what I want them to."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Jay Leno. Credit: Matt Sayles