Time shifting TV viewing – the first AU numbers are in …


The first week of the ratings period marked a bit of a landmark event in TV ratings data collection. It was the first week that time shifted viewing was included in official oztam data.

John Grono – frequent blog commenter – of GAP research has put together an interesting snapshot of the data that I thought would be interesting to summarise.

Edit: A few people – John and also Vivienne at Maxus have pointed out a few important points to note.

1/ It’s not ratings season so the majority of big programming isn’t on air at the moment (ie, there’s a lack of shows on FTA right now people would feel the need to time shift/IQ)
2/ Point 1 kind of explains why Sub TV is enjoying such higher amounts of time shifting right now
3/ February will be the month to watch as the new programming breaks and the regulars come back

John has grouped the numbers into 3 areas – ‘live viewing’, ‘as live’ and ‘time shifted’.

I’ve grabbed some of John’s key outtakes and tried to categorise them into areas of interest

So … how many people are time shifting here in Australia?

We see that on average just over 96% of viewing is ‘live’ each day, with ‘time-shift’ around 2% each day and ‘as live’ around 1.5% each day.

When is time shifting taking place?

We generally see more total time-shifting in prime-time than daytime. We also tend to see more ‘time-shift’ in prime-time, and more ‘as live’ in daytime. That is, people are tending to ‘slip’ programmes during the day, but tending to record and playback prime-time programmes at a later date.

The basic ‘shape’ of the viewing day has barely altered. Not surprisingly, 7pm-midnight are the hours with the biggest volume of time-shifting. However, on a proportionate basis, 2am to 7am sees the highest proportion of time-shifting. Please also note that the ‘as live’ proportion decreases across the day. This is because with the 2am cut-off for the research day, there are less available hours to playback on the same day.

Which demographics are doing the most time shifting?

People 18-24 are doing the most time-shifting and People 65+ the least. Women are doing slightly more than men, and
Grocery Buyers are almost spot-on the All People average.

Which networks are most affected? Is there a difference between FTA and Sub TV?

FTA TV is seeing around 2% time-shifted compared to STV’s 7%. Seven is seeing the least (leading networks tend to be shifted less) especially in ‘as live’ and is pretty close to Nine. ABC and Ten are similar. The surprise is that SBS is marginally seeing the most but virtually no ‘as live’.

These numbers are most welcome. For the past 2 years there’s been a lot of talk around time shifting … but not much more than anecdotal figures which were generally that ‘loads of people were doing it’ or ‘no one was’

It appears, from the data, that it’s still a fringe activity. The absolute overwhelming majority of people are still watching TV as they used to – live.  Only 2% are truly time shifting – so those investing in TV ads shouldn’t be too worried about those with PVRs skipping ads – right now it’s far from being an issue.

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One response to “Time shifting TV viewing – the first AU numbers are in …

  1. Hey Ben. One important caveat was missed in your reporting.

    The data referred to was OzTAM data for just Metro television (i.e. no Regional TV). It was also was based on just the first full week of the TV year which includes the Christmas and New Year holiday periods. This is a time of year when “usual viewing” (if such a thing exists) goes out the window. Over the coming weeks I will b extending the analysis for the MFA.

    But you are right, that with a given penetration of around 25%, this means that “time-shifting” is a non-event for three-quarters of the population.

    If you want to prognosticate about the future of Time-Shifted Viewing, I’d be looking at the 7% of STV viewing being time-shifted, especially in light of the fact that only around half of the STV homes have an iQ.

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