Who Watches TV During Regular Broadcast Hours?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on April 9, 2010

As I write this, I’m watching an episode of NCIS that I purchased from iTunes and streamed to my Apple TV. Last weekend, I was swapping stories with friends about our favorite TV shows and when someone mentioned a show I didn’t recognize, I asked when it was on. The answer? “I don’t know, I TiVo everything.”

That’s when I realized that I nearly never watch TV shows during regular broadcast hours.  Instead, I rely on recordings and purchases to watch shows I’m interested in, when I want them.  And since the networks now stream shows on their Web sites and Hulu, who needs to be a slave to the TV schedule anymore?

In a report titled “Television, Internet and Mobile Usage in the US,” Nielsen calls this phenomenon “timeshifted TV” because viewers are watching shows on their own schedule.

Who’s been hurt by this phenomenon?

Who’s benefiting?

How about you?  What are your viewing habits?  What other disruptive technologies and trends are helping us say bye-bye to traditional forms of leisure?

5 replies on “Who Watches TV During Regular Broadcast Hours?”

I don’t watch too much TV personally, my usual habit is turning on the news or my favorite music station “Palladia” and watch whatever is on. I’m not big on preplanning and enjoy the surprise when I turn it on. With that said, some things (like the Olympics) I was recording whole days and watching it the next day, buzzing through commercials and watching 4 hours of coverage in 2 hours. Was REAL nice.

I read an article a while back that some advertising agencies are making commercials in a way to still make sense even when viewed in fast forward(flash the logo longer, easily identifiable characters). Also – I think there will be more and more product placement in the future.



I guess I’m a TV luddite. I mostly watch my regular shows at their regular broadcast time. If I don’t, I get behind in watching and it stresses me out until I catch up.

I’m with you, Joanna – I have no idea when anything is on, since we always record everything and watch our shows when it’s convenient for us. I love it! It does save time, since we are skipping through the commercials – an hourlong show is down to about 45 minutes of actual viewing time. But the downside is the networks are doing more and more of the annoying popup ads during shows, which I find irritating and distracting.

My TV watching experience is casual at best – 15 minutes or so when I need to just sit and not do anything for a few minutes. My wife, however, is addicted to Bravo and the reality-TV drama. She does timeshift her “real housewives” and “millionaire matchmaker” shows by using the option to record an entire season. She loves fastforwarding through the commercials so she can get right back to the angry peeps on the TV.
Timeshifting has been around since VCRs first came to the scene – and does anyone remember VCR+? It was the precursor to the Tivo, where you just had to type in the little code next to the TV listing and your VCR would record the right show.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of “on demand”. I’d rather not be required to have the foresight to select, in advance, which show to watch in the future. I’d rather be able to select from a list of shows and start watching right away. I am very much in favor of an ala carte system, albeit at the Program level rather than the Channel level.
Maybe I’m weird, but I actually *like* commercials. I often am just as entertained by the commercials as the programming. I’ve definitely watch Ron sell his rotisserie and seen him “set it and forget it” too many times. (I don’t own one, but it makes a great chicken, by the way) For the non-paid programming type of commercial, it can be quite challenging to tell a story in 15 or 30 seconds, and I applaud those companies that do it well. There are plenty of bad commercials to go around, except of course, for the SlapChop.


Nice post! I wouldn’t say I’m a huge tv junkie, but I certainly have my favorites, that now, thanks to my DVR I watch very sporatically, and completely on my own schedule.

Yes, embarassingly, I have enjoyed an American Idol season or two…or three…and I was just wondering the other day (as I was plugging my ears on the way to work as not to hear the results of who got booted off the competition), how live shows that rely on viewer participation are affected by “timeshifted TV.” For example, by a viewer watching a recorded version of the live show, they miss out on the AT&T sponsored text voting system …”Text 5006 to at the end of the show to vote for X Aspiring pop icon,” fast forward through the Coca-Cola and Ford sponsored comercials. One way I think that American Idol and many other similar shows have been compensating for their loss of advertising exposure is more product placement during the show.

Although it does feel great not feeling like a slave to commercials during my favorite shows, as a wanabee marketer, I do often pause to watch what seem to be some of the more intriguing, funny or innovative advertisements…I mean who can resist the talking E Trade babies? Commercials, ads and public announcements can also tell us a lot about who marketers and advertisers think we are when they choose to buy airtime during our favorite shows.

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