When TiVo launched a dozen years ago, industry-watchers worried the DVR would be the death-knell of television.
But here we are in the midst of yet another Upfront ad sales season, and DVR technology is actually playing a crucial role in keeping certain shows alive.
Instead of killing the networks and their precious advertisers, in many cases, DVRs provide crucial technology to understand exactly who is watching what, and when.
On Monday NBC renewed "Parenthood" and Fox renewed "Fringe," but not on the strength of the shows ratings when they first air. The crucial factor for both these shows was the viewers they drew on DVR over the week after they debuted. When accounting for a week of DVR, ratings for both shows spiked more than 40 percent. This sends a message to the networks that the shows have broad reach and the potential to really take off.
While networks are only paid by advertisers for ratings for the first three days after a show airs, they monitor ratings for the first seven. They watch these numbers for an indication of what's working and what's worth working on. Broadcasters would like to eventually charge advertisers for that full week of ratings, though that's unlikely to ever be accepted.