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Call for seven-day window to count ratings grows louder

November 09, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • ABC's "Modern Family."
ABC's "Modern Family." (ABC )

If you watch an episode of ABC's "Modern Family" within three days of recording it on your digital video recorder, Madison Avenue loves you.

But if you watch it four days after you recorded it, you're worthless in the eyes of advertisers.

Some media executives want to change that. While most people who record shows with a DVR watch them within three days of airing, the number of people who don't is growing.

On a conference call with analysts Thursday, Walt Disney Co. Chairman Robert Iger said it is time for advertisers to take a look at using a seven-day window when looking at ratings, as opposed to the current three-day window.

Iger joins CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert, who have both been vocal about this issue.

"We want to be paid for every impression we deliver," Harbert said. 

Of course, not all advertisers will embrace this. If a movie studio has a big film opening on the weekend, the fact that someone watched the spot they bought in Friday night's episode of NBC's "Grimm" on Tuesday isn't going to mean a lot.

But, as CBS CEO Leslie Moonves point out in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, "if you are advertising Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and it is five days later, it should count."

One fix to this issue would be to find a way to insert fresher commercials into recorded programs stored in cable boxes. Such a practice, known as dynamic ad insertion, is already being used for programming viewed via video-on-demand.

Ultimately, the networks are hoping that video-on-demand will replace DVRs as the device of choice for consumers. Although Nielsen says that almost half the people watching shows via DVR do not skip advertisements, the fast-forward mechanism can be disabled on VOD.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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