The sole provider of national television ratings in the US, Nielsen Media Research, is about to begin day-by-day measurement of digital video recorder viewing.

The service will offer three reports daily for each program. The first will detail how many people watch the show live; the second will track how many people record it and play it back within 24 hours; and the third will detail playback within seven days of the original airing.

The figures will fuel the DVR debate and, it is hoped, provide some answers to the vexed question of how much impact ad-skipping technology has on commercial TV and how this might be reflected in airtime rates.

Initial information will be taken from a sample of just 60 DVR homes in Nielsen's 9,000-home national ratings sample - less than one percent of the estimated seven million DVR homes in the US. However, the company is planning to add around 100 homes a month to make up a full sample by July.

Ceo Susan Whiting says Nielsen has spent around $120 million (€101m; £69m) on developing the technology to measure DVR and video-on-demand use.

However media buyers and TV networks are sitting on opposite sides of the fence over the value of the figures.

Says Jason Kanefsky, vp at Havas-owned media buyer MPG: "I can't think of any good reason to include DVR viewing. If you're not watching a show live you're most likely not watching the commercials or you're watching them too late to matter."

But the networks counter that many DVR owners do watch commercials and that 53% of viewers who zip through ads go back to those they think look interesting [WAMN: 18-Nov-05].

Data sourced from Adweek (USA) and Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff