Programming

TiVo: Viewers Still Open to New Commitments

DVR Service Releases List of ‘Top 50 Season Passes’ 10/06/2007 06:43:00 AM Eastern

As the industry waits for Nielsen Media Research ratings numbers that are slower to come than in previous seasons due to new measurement of digital-video-recorder viewing, DVR pioneer TiVo offered a quick glimpse at which new shows are already yielding long-term commitments from viewers.

TiVo Series3

For the second consecutive year, TiVo released a list of its “Top 50 Season Passes” after the conclusion of the network’s premiere week, which ended Sept. 30 this year and on Sept. 25 in 2006. Season Passes are shows that TiVo subscribers have elected to record on a season-long basis by programming their TiVo units to store them each week, and such episodes often remain in storage on the TiVo unit long after the broadcast season is over.

Two new shows, ABC’s Private Practice and NBC’s Bionic Woman, broke into the Top 50 at Nos. 18 and 43, respectively. For new series, that is a slight improvement over last year, when only one show, NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, cracked the Top 50, at No. 12.

“It’s a good early indicator of what caught the most attention,” said Todd Juenger, TiVo’s vice president and general manager of audience research and measurement, who believes increased DVR adoption is pushing networks to more elaborately promote new shows.

Of course, Studio 60 eventually fell out of favor with both TiVo subscribers and the general viewing public and went on hiatus midseason, while the same network’s Heroesdebuted at No. 85 last year but is now No. 6 -- and a breakout Nielsen hit, as well.

That’s why Juenger cautioned “not to read too much into” the initial Top 50 list, which TiVo plans to update and publicize several times this season (a frequently updated “Top 20” list is actually available on an obscure part of TiVo’s Web site). He said the list -- based on the same pool of 20,000 subscribers that TiVo tracks for its “StopWatch” measurement of commercial viewing -- is simply “a snapshot of a point in time” of subscribers’ TV consumption, particularly as it relates to new shows. Out of the initial top 50, perhaps 10 to 15 shows will churn out by season’s end.

“While it’s interesting to see, it’s more a measure of the effectiveness of the hype being generated by the networks and, I guess, receptivity to the concepts on the audience’s part,” he added. “But a show still has to deliver on the hype.”

Nonetheless, some of TiVo’s initial findings may merit long-term attention, particularly as they are expanded to include the Top 100 Season Pass shows. For example, five of the eight new shows on the Top 100 list in 2006 have returned for the 2007 season (three are returning mid-season).

And this year, new shows fared better overall than they did in 2006, though the total of eight is the same. NBC’s Journeyman is No. 54, ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money is No. 55, Fox’s Back to You (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/freeVideo/element_id/2140078857/taxid/3...) is No. 65, CBS’ Caneis No. 70, NBC’s Chuckis No. 75 and PBS’ The War is No. 76.

With the exception of Studio 60, new shows ranked much lower last year, with CBS’ Jericho at No. 64 and Shark at No. 72; ABC’s Six Degrees and Men in Trees at Nos. 79 and 80, respectively; NBC’s Kidnapped and Heroes at Nos. 84 and 85; and CBS’ The New Adventures of Old Christine at No. 99.

Not surprisingly, the TiVo Season Pass list also shows an edge for broadcast-network fare -- out of the Top 100, 29 shows are from basic and premium cable networks.

About 92% of TiVo subscribers use their boxes’ Season Pass feature, Juenger said, and the average Season Pass user saves about 13 or 14 shows. While viewers are slow to add new shows to their Season Pass recording list, once they do, they are reluctant to remove them (it takes a little button-pushing). So the rankings don’t change quickly. For example, ABC’s Lost and Fox’s American Idol, which won’t return until 2008, are still ranked Nos. 4 and No. 7 overall, same as they were in 2006.

As the industry warms to the concept of a viewer’s “engagement” with a program over gross ratings, the Season Pass list, at the very least, indicates a long-term leaning, Juenger said.

“It’s almost getting married to the show,” he added. “That’s a pretty big commitment. You’re committing space on the hard drive, and you’re psychologically saying, ‘I’ve bought into this show.’”

The Full Top 100 TiVo Season Pass List (source: TiVo)

BIG RISERS (Rank, Title, Last, +/-):

18: Private Practice, 70, +52

43: Bionic Woman, 88, +45

55: America's Next Top Model, 67, +12

BIG FALLERS (Rank, Title, Last, +/-):

79: Big Brother 8, 53, -26

99: The New Adventures of Old Christine, 84, -15

62: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, 47, -15

66: Saving Grace, 52, -14

86: Last Comic Standing, 72, -14

90: Army Wives, 79, -11

96: America's Got Talent, 85, -11

100: The Riches, 89, -11

92: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, 82, -10

78: The 4400, 68, -10

THE TOP 100 (Rank, Title, % of Subscribers, % First-Run Only, Last, +/-):

1:Grey's Anatomy, 28.4%, 52.8%,1, 0

2:Desperate Housewives, 23%, 58.1%, 2, 0

3:House, 20.8%, 50.3%, 3, 0

4:Lost, 19.8%, 55.6%,4, 0

5:CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, 19.7%, 61.5%, 5, 0

6:Heroes, 18.8%, 47.7%, 7, 1

7:American Idol, 18.7%, 30.9%, 6, -1

8:24, 16.7%, 57.3%, 8, 0

9:The Office, 13.4%, 38.3%, 9, 0

10:CSI: Miami, 12.8%, 62.3%, 11, 1

11:Dancing with the Stars, 12.5%, 26.9%, 18, 7

12:Oprah Winfrey, 12.4%, 37.5%,10, -2

13:Survivor: China, 11.9%, 29.5%, 16, 3

14:Boston Legal, 11.9%, 47.6%,14, 0

15:ER, 11.4%, 62.4%, 12, -3

16:Brothers & Sisters, 11.3%, 49.4%, 15, -1

17:The Closer, 10.2%, 55.5%, 13, -4

18:Private Practice, 10.2%, 34.8%, 70, 52

19:Criminal Minds, 10.2%, 51.8%, 19, 0

20:Prison Break, 10.2%, 51%, 17, -3

21:Two and a Half Men, 10%, 45.9%, 22, 1

22:NCIS, 9.9%, 54.2%, 21, -1

23:Las Vegas, 9.9%, 58.8%, 26, 3

24:Medium, 9.8%, 57.7%, 20, -4

25:Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, 9.7%, 58.7%, 23, -2

26:My Name Is Earl, 9.5%, 49.4%, 24, -2

27:CSI: NY, 9.5%, 57%, 25, -2

28:Numb3rs, 9.3%, 57.7%, 27, -1

29:Ugly Betty, 9.2%, 48.1%, 33, 4

30: The Unit, 9%, 50.6%, 28, -2

31:Without a Trace, 8.8%, 56.6%, 30, -1

32:Bones, 8.8%, 53.8%, 32, 0

33:Entourage, 8.7%, 53.9%, 31, -2

34:Damages, 8.4%, 40.3%, 29, -5

35:Shark, 7.7%, 50.7%, 40, 5

36:Family Guy, 7.7%, 40%, 41, 5

37:Law & Order, 7.5%, 59.7%, 35, -2

38:Scrubs, 7.5%, 48%, 37, -1

39:Monk, 7.4%, 65.1%, 36, -3

40:Rescue Me, 7.4%, 55.7%, 42, 2

40:Cold Case, 7.4%, 50%, 39, -1:

42:The Sopranos, 7.3%, 40.5%, 34, -8

43:Bionic Woman, 7.3%, 34.5%, 88, 45

44:So You Think You Can Dance, 7.2%, 26.7%, 38, -6

45:Ghost Whisperer, 7%, 54%, 45, 0

46:Nip/Tuck, 6.9%, 68%, 46, 0

47:Law & Order: Criminal Intent, 6.8%, 62.3%, 43, -4

48:How I Met Your Mother, 6.4%, 52.7%, 53, 5

49:Burn Notice, 6.3%, 46.7%, 44, -5

50:Battlestar Galactica, 6.1%, 69.6%, 50, 0

51:The Simpsons, 5.9%, 50.4%, 51, 0

52: Jericho, 5.9%, 50.3%, 48, -4

53:Big Love, 5.9%, 51%, 49, -4

54:Journeyman, 5.7%, 38.9%, n.a., n.a.

55:Dirty Sexy Money, 5.7%, 38.3%, n.a., n.a.

55:America's Next Top Model, 5.7%, 47.4%, 67, 12

57:Friday Night Lights, 5.6%, 47.6%, 59, 2

58:Psych, 5.6%, 59.9%, 56, -2

59:Planet Earth, 5.6%, 18.8%, 55, -4

60:South Park, 5.6%, 57.7%, 65, 5

61:Eureka, 5.6%. 56.4%, 58, -3

62:Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, 5.6%, 32.8%, 47, -15

63:Hell's Kitchen, 5.6%, 31.6%, 57, -6

64:Top Chef, 5.5%, 66.9%, 61, -3

65:Back to You, 5.5%, 35.1%, 73, 8

66:Saving Grace, 5.4%, 38.7%, 52, -14

67:30 Rock, 5.4%, 38.7%, 62, -5

68:Saturday Night Live, 5.3%, 52.3%, 60, -8

69:The Biggest Loser, 5.3%, 32.7%, 63, -6

70:Cane, 5.2%, 34.3%, n.a., n.a.

71:Smallville, 5.2%, 65.6%, 69, -2

72:Men in Trees, 5%, 46.7%, 64, -8

73:Curb Your Enthusiasm, 5%, 44.6%, 71, -2

74:The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, 4.8%, 68.3%, 66, -8

75:Chuck, 4.8%, 40.1%, n.a., n.a.

76:The War, 4.7%, 28.1%, n.a., n.a.

77:Stargate Atlantis, 4.6%, 73.1%, 76, -1

78:The 4400, 4.6%, 70.8%, 68, -10

79:Big Brother 8, 4.4%, 26.1%, 53, -26

80:The Shield, 4.4%, 61.4%, 74, -6

81:Deadliest Catch, 4.3%, 68.4%, 75, -6

82:60 Minutes, 4.2%, 28.6%, 77, -5

83:Weeds, 4.2%, 49.6%, 79, -4

84:Mythbusters, 4.1%, 63.6%, 78, -6

85:Dr. Phil, 4%, 34.6%, 81, -4

86:Last Comic Standing: The Search for the, 3.9%, 34.7%, 72, -14

87: Crossing Jordan, 3.9%, 53.6%, 83, -4

88:The Bachelor, 3.9%, 25.9%, n.a., n.a.

89:Kid Nation, 3.8%, 28.4%, n.a., n.a.

90:Army Wives, 3.8%, 36.3%, 79, -11

91:Project Runway, 3.8%, 81%, 87, -4

92:Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, 3.7%, 45.2%, 82, -10

93:'Til Death, 3.7%, 40.1%, 96, 3

94:The Hills, 3.6%, 55.7%, 86, -8

95:Big Shots, 3.6%, 38.4%, n.a., n.a.

96:America's Got Talent, 3.5%, 24.5%, 85, -11

97:General Hospital, 3.5%, 33%, 93, -4

98:Real Time with Bill Maher, 3.4%, 43.6%, 91, -7

99:The New Adventures of Old Christine, 3.4%, 43.9%, 84, -15

100:The Riches, 3.4%, 40.9%, 89, -11

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