Nielsen study finds that dramas are recorded at higher rates
In a new study of television audience trends, ratings giant Nielsen found that viewers recorded and watched scripted dramas at a much higher rate than sitcoms, sports and reality shows.
Hourlong dramas accounted for 58% of time-shifted viewing, according to Nielsen's Advertising & Audiences Report released Thursday. Comedies made up 16%, reality shows accounted for 14%, sports represented 8% and news, 4%.
Network executives are closely monitoring audience trends now that more than 40% of all TV households in the U.S. are equipped with digital video recorders. Many viewers fast-forward through the commercials, which have long generated the dollars that support the high cost of television production.
The Nielsen report found that nearly 43% of people who digitally record shows watch the episode the same day. Nearly 88% of people who recorded a program watched it within three days.
The finding is significant because advertisers currently pay the networks for viewers who record and watch an episode within that three-day window. Some network executives are lobbying advertisers to extend the period to seven days.
Nielsen said that dramas drew 41% of the viewers in prime time and generated 35% of the television advertising dollars. Reality shows, once red-hot, have cooled slightly. In 2011, they attracted 15.5% of the prime-time audience, down from 17.4% in 2009. Meanwhile, sit-coms have become more popular.
Last year, $72 billion was spent on TV advertising in the U.S., with $14 billion allocated for the five leading prime-time genres: dramas, comedies, sports, news and reality shows.
Advertisers spent $4.1 billion last year in prime-time sports, which accounted for 29% of the total.
And not surprisingly, more than half the product placements on the major networks during prime time occurred in reality shows (4,664 occurrences).
-- Meg James
Graphic: Advertising and audience trends in prime time. Credit: Nielsen