According to the results, which tracked prime-time viewership, the most-watched commercials in July appeared during NBC's "America's Got Talent" and CBS's "48 Hours Mystery," which ranked 13th and 37th in total viewership.
The data were culled from a random sample of 20,000 TiVo units using its StopWatch feature, which tracks consumer viewing behavior on a second-by-second basis in live and time-shifted mode. Agencies such as Starcom USA and Crispin Porter & Bogusky and holding company Interpublic Group of Cos. subscribe to the service. This is the third commercial-rankings report the DVR provider has released.
Among July's most-watched commercials on broadcast networks during prime time were spots for Universal's "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," French's Classic Yellow Mustard and AT&T Wireless Services.
Todd Juenger, VP-general manager of TiVo Audience Research and Measurement, said, though unusual, it's not surprising that lower-ranking programs such as "America's Got Talent" and "48 Hours Mystery" had the most viewed commercials, as both had a very high live-viewing percentage.
"Programs that have a high percentage of live viewing have a lower percentage of ad fast-forwarding," he said.
Good creative is not key
Cable programs occupied the top 10 most-watched programs in July, with TNT's "The Closer" taking the one though five spots. Since the majority of the viewing was in time-shifted mode, or on recorded mode, viewers were more likely to skip the commercials, Mr. Juenger said.
Mr. Juenger also said that in a DVR world, it's better to have good placement than killer creative, noting that brands such as AIG Life Insurance and Tax Masters Tax Service broke into the top five spots for most-viewed commercials.
Many factors come into play for commercial viewership on recorded devices he said, including commercial placement, whether the show is playing in daytime or prime time, or whether the show is likely to be viewed by a live audience or in time-shifted mode.
Another finding of the survey: The more a commercial aired, the more likely it was to be fast-forwarded. "By the nature of having such a sample size, it has less of a chance of being watched. The shorter the schedule, the greater the variation," he said.
TiVo's July StopWatch statistics are the first that break down data by categories -- including automobile, soft drinks and motion pictures. Some brands, such as Red Bull, Sudafed PE Nasal Decongestant, Excedrin, Ford and movie studios 20th Century Fox and Universal, were able to make the top-five-most-viewed commercials across two different time periods, both from January 2007 to April 2007 and May 2007 to July 2007.
Brands such as Samsung, Tax Masters and Audemars Piguet Watches continue to show up regularly on the least fast-forwarded list, according to the survey results. Mr. Juenger said those campaigns aired almost exclusively on cable and almost exclusively during daytime, which contributes overall to lower fast-forwarding rates in general, compared with higher-rated prime time, broadcast environments.
Mr. Juenger said the data give media planners more insight and data than ever about recorded TV viewership, but cautioned against using the survey results as a code-breaker. "It's very different for each brand and each category," he said.