DVR viewers boost fall ratings

Los Angeles Times


TV executives used to look at DVRs as assassins that could kill their business. But this fall, the recording devices are seen as saviors.

Two weeks into the new season, none of the fall shows has broken through the clutter and looks poised to become a smash yet, although NBC’s post- apocalypse drama “Revolution” and CBS’ Sherlock Holmes update “Elementary” have shown promise. Many returning shows — including ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and Fox’s “The X Factor” — have posted lackluster numbers.

On Wednesday night, ABC’s new country-music soap “Nashville” opened to unspectacular results, while “Chicago Fire” failed to heat up the ratings for NBC.

But network bosses aren’t panicking over the mediocre results yet, because they say that in these days of fragmented media and shortened attention spans, it takes a long time to figure out what’s working.

Americans’ DVR queues may resemble the debris-filled domiciles on “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” But if fickle viewers finally do get around to watching the shows within three days of the original airing, the viewership totals as measured by Nielsen can jump by 25 percent or more. That can mean the difference between cancellation and survival.

“Nothing has broken out and is looking like a massive hit,” Dan Harrison, executive vice president for Fox Broadcasting, said of the new fall shows. But it’s still too soon to tell, he added, because the traditional practice of making programming decisions based on morning-after ratings no longer makes sense.

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