The DVR is a wonderful device.  Digital Video Recorders let you record all the TV shows you want and watch them on your schedule. It’s kind of like Netflix… before Netflix existed.  But new research shows that DVR use is down dramatically.

Is it going the way of the VCR?  You remember VCR’s, right?  They are those things you stuffed giant cassettes into and could never remember how to set the clock.

SOURCE:  Video Advertising Bureau/Nielsen Data

The Video Advertising Bureau analyzed data from Nielsen and reports that time shifting programming on DVR’s peaked three years ago and usage has continued to decline.  People are watching just less than 23 hours of time-shifted programming a year – that’s down nearly 3 hours from the last measurement.

With those Millennials, the usage is even less.  Perhaps because they are used to having everything available on-demand, adults age 18-34 watched just 17 hours & 27 minutes to time-shifted programs on their DVRs.

SOURCE:  Video Advertising Bureau/Nielsen Data

Most of the programming that is recorded comes from Broadcast TV (you know, those local ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX TV stations in your town).  Most of it is prime time programs.  Despite what you may think, the overwhelming majority of TV shows are watched live when they air on the networks.  77% of prime time viewing by adults age 18-49 is live.

SOURCE:  Video Advertising Bureau/Nielsen Data

Ethnic viewers, according to the study, watch even more live TV.  African Americans watch 83% of primetime in pattern (while it occurs).  Hispanics 18-49 watch 81% of their TV live, according to the study.

So, you may ask, when people do time-shift with their DVRs, what do they record?

  1. Participation Variety Shows (The Voice, America’s Got Talent- type programs)
  2. Dramas
  3. Award Shows
  4. Other stuff

DVR users watch a lot more TV overall

The homes that do use DVRs tend to watch more TV than the average person… about 2o% more.


Full study here.