Advertising set to be shaken but not destroyed by PVRs

LONDON - The imminent demise of television advertising has been overestimated, according to new research on the rise of personal video recorders that downplays the threat to traditional TV ads.

According to research by MindShare, PVRs have received almost universally positive attention, a fact that sets them aside from other forms of new technology.

MindShare says that PVRs are destined to destroy the linear viewing model in place since the launch of television, and that TV will become more like cinema, with a number of "blockbuster" programmes taking a high proportion of audience ratings.

However, the media agency says to expect no rapid demise of TV. It says that the figures may be biased because PVRs are currently used by early adopters, and may not be representative of all viewers' propensity to skip ads.

Furthermore, it says that the same people who skip ads using PVRs may be the same people who already do not watch the ads now.

MindShare is optimistically predicting that PVRs will lead to better programming, and therefore more people watching more television.

It says that as more and more people buy PVRs, live television broadcasts of sporting events and the like, which do not benefit from being recorded and watched at a later date, will increasingly become more popular with advertisers.

Rather than destroying advertising, PVRs, the media agency says, will rock the status quo. "PVRs won't destroy TV advertising. But they will upset the status quo and force advertisers to look at more innovative ways of getting their messages across. For advertisers and their agencies this will provide not only a serious threat, but an opportunity to steal a march on their competitors."

In the UK, PVRs are starting to take off, partly from Sky's £20m advertising push to promote its branded Sky+ PVR, but more so because current PVR owners are shouting about the virtues of owning the devices.

MindShare is predicting that the total number of PVRs by 2010 will stand at just more than 8m, up from fewer than 1m at present.

The company quotes research from the US showing that audiences skip from between 65% to 90% of ads during time-shifted viewing, compared with 15% of ad avoidance without a PVR.

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