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Ad-On: Uptick In Young Demos Watching TV Spots

Wayne Friedman
November 3, 2008

Do you believe that young TV viewers are fast-forwarding through commercials? The short answer is: not always.

When it comes to C3 ratings--commercial ratings plus three days of DVR playback--young viewers have shown a slight lift through the first two weeks of the season, versus their respective program ratings. There is also an improvement over year-ago numbers, according to a recent survey by media agency Optimedia International.

For younger viewers in prime time--viewers 12-34 and females 12-34--this year's C3 rating hit a 103 index, versus their respective live program ratings, through Oct. 5. That's a 3% improvement in their comparative program ratings. Last year, young viewers' C3 ratings versus live programming ratings were at a 100 index, as well as across most major demographic groups.

The highest numbers for a specific night were for Fox's Tuesday programming, where "House" and "Fringe" airs. Among viewers 12-34, the index was 114; for females 12-34, it was 115.

Younger demographics also fared better against older demos this year--adults 18-49 and adults 25-54, where the indexes were 101 and 100, respectively. "Younger viewers are tending to watch more commercials," says Larry Novenstern, executive vice president and joint managing director for NewCast@Optimedia for Optimedia International. "Maybe they aren't as jaded, or have more time on their hands to watch commercials."

Much of this can be attributed to the three days of DVR playback, which adds to overall ratings, for programs and commercials alike. The only demographic in prime time to lose ground in C3 ratings versus live program ratings was male 18-49 viewers, who were at a 99 index. This dropped from a 100 index a year ago.

While adding in DVR playback has generally helped to improve overall numbers, Optimedia says C3 is still under-delivering versus program ratings in evening news and late-night programming. For example, in looking at late-night programs, viewers 12-34 hit a 97 index this season versus its program ratings; females 12-34 are at a 98; 18-49 viewers are at a 96, and 25-54 viewers are at a 95.

In late-night programming, male 18-49 viewers recorded the lowest C3 index for any daypart--a 94--versus their comparative live program ratings. The highest results were with young females, 12-34, who posted a 106 index for daytime programming.

Overall, Optimedia notes that C3 ratings versus live program ratings are improving as DVR penetration and usage increases for virtually all dayparts: prime time, daytime, evening news and late-night programming. 





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