Nearly two-thirds of all viewing by TiVo users during premiere week, with the exception of sports programs, "was done on a time-shifted basis," said Todd Juenger, VP-general manager, TiVo Audience Research and Measurement.
TiVo generated the rankings using its StopWatch service, which tracks viewing behavior on a second-by-second basis via random sampling of its user base. ABC's "Grey's" finished first in total viewing, followed by "CSI" on CBS, "Desperate Housewives" on ABC, "Survivor: China" on CBS and "Heroes" on NBC. NBC's Sunday-night telecast of NFL football was the most-watched show on a live basis, according to TiVo.
"Grey's" also carried the day among viewers who watched on a time-shifted basis, followed by "CSI," "Desperate Housewives," "Survivor: China" and "The Office."
TiVo's rankings appear days before Nielsen Media Research is expected to release its first commercial ratings to networks and media buyers. TiVo's data offer an interesting look at the viewing habits of people who have the ability to skip past ads, but Nielsen's data are the basis for how marketers will pay for ads. Rather than using program ratings to set ad rates, networks will use viewership ratings for commercial breaks that include viewers who watch the ads as many as three days after they air with DVRs.
One media executive estimated that the commercial ratings, also known as "C3" in the industry (for commercial ratings over three days of viewership), likely will hew close to current live program ratings. Steve Sternberg, exec VP-audience analysis at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Magna Global, said the five broadcast networks declined by a combined 11% based on live viewing in the first two weeks of the season. Using live-plus-same-day ratings, which include viewers who watched a show live or on the day it aired, the decline was 6%, he said.
Mr. Sternberg attributed the drop in part to the increased penetration of DVRs but made no mention about whether the programming was good enough to sustain audiences going forward.