The weekly "live plus seven day" DVR figures generally don't get much attention because they lag so far behind the actual telecasts, but it's worth pointing out how significant those numbers often are, especially in gauging the cultural significance of various programs.
In the latest tally, for example, "Lost's" audience grew by 18% -- climbing to 14.3 million, from 12.1 million for its "live plus same-day" total -- and gained enough viewers in the 18-49 age demographic to rank as the No. 1 scripted program of the week by that measure.
Given that the ABC series went up against "American Idol" that night, that's hardly a huge surprise -- but it's notable how many people watched after the first day. Again, not a huge shock if you think about it, since people who missed the two-hour opener would have been bleary-eyed at work had they tried to get through it that night.
ABC has made a point of touting the DVR popularity of its programs. The same release, for example, notes the following:
“Grey’s Anatomy” was once again TV’s most-played-back show, while “Lost,” “Modern Family” and “Private Practice” all saw substantial gains in the finalized DVR playback averages.
ABC claimed 3 of TV’s Top 8 biggest overall gainers, with each show jumping by more than 2 million viewers.“Grey’s Anatomy” – No. 1 (+2.758 million), “Lost” – No. 5 (+2.207 million) and “Modern Family” – No. 8 (+2.164 million). Among Adults 18-49, ABC aired 4 of the Top 10 TV series with the biggest rating increases: “Grey’s Anatomy” – No. 1 (+1.4 rating points/+31%), “Lost” – No. 4 (+1.1 rating/+20%. “Modern Family” – No. 4 (+1.1 rating/+28% and “Private Practice” – No. 10 (+0.8 rating/+24%).
Normally, such claims can be a mixed bag, since DVR playback viewers are highly likely to zap through the commercials. Media buyers agreed to consider live-plus-three-day ratings, but for broadcasters, being the most-TiVo-ed network is definitely a mixed big -- as in, "People love our shows so much that we can't cash in on them financially."
With serialized shows, though, the DVR-inflated totals do provide a clearer picture not only of how many people are following the series but, in "Lost's" case, how many are apt to be there for the finish. And besides, strictly as a research exercise, it's kind of cool.