Alison Brie and Joel McHale in "Community," in an undated handout photo.
Neil Jacobs, Associated Press - Nyt
Networks adjust to audiences who record shows for later
- Article by: ANDY FIXMER and EDMUND LEE
- Bloomberg News
- May 26, 2012 - 10:15 PM
Major TV networks are moving little-watched shows with big DVR audiences to Fridays, testing whether the technology can help programs like "Community" make it on a night with few viewers.
"Community," the half-hour NBC comedy with Joel McHale and Chevy Chase, shifts to Fridays in September. With the show ranked 141st in viewers and digital video recorders boosting the audience by half, NBC has little to lose. Fox is moving Kiefer Sutherland's drama "Touch," and ABC is switching Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing."
Fridays offer networks a chance to turn the commercial-skipping DVR to their advantage. They get paid for ads that are viewed on DVRs, even partly, within three days of the airdate. A day later they get nothing. The idea behind the schedule shift is that viewers, especially the younger ones marketers like, catch up on shows during the weekend, providing a ratings and revenue boost to shows that air on Friday.
"The ratings may not look impressive Saturday morning, but those numbers just grow and grow ... over the next several days," said Kevin Reilly, entertainment president at News Corp.'s Fox network.
Studies indicate that people replaying shows watch a majority of commercials, compared with live broadcasts when some viewers get a snack or flip channels, said Brian Hughes, senior vice president of audience analysis at the advertising company MagnaGlobal. And most, 88 percent, watch within the 72-hour cutoff, he said.
With spare time on the weekend, viewers have more opportunity to catch up on shows.
"Community," the comedy about community-college students, attracted 2.75 million viewers a night this season. Including DVR users, the figure jumped to 4.12 million. Its devoted audience will follow it wherever it moves, said Robert Greenblatt, NBC's entertainment chairman.
Networks once saw DVRs as a threat. The devices let viewers record shows, watch them later and skip the commercials that give broadcasters most of their income. The pay-TV service Dish Network Corp. underscored the threat this month, angering the networks when it began offering Auto Hop, which automatically skips ads in shows subscribers have recorded.
Moving low-rated shows to Fridays, while not solving those problems, offers some advantages. It frees up more-valuable midweek slots for new programs or series with larger real-time audiences. Shows with large DVR viewership may have a higher chance of survival on Fridays.
"Monday night shows suffer for the same reason that Friday night shows gain from DVR viewing," DePalma said. "Anything you've recorded that's older than three days won't be captured."
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