US television networks are determined to persuade advertisers and their agencies that digital video recorders are not the work of the devil.

The latest champion of the ad-skipping technology is NBC Universal's president of TV research and media development, Alan Wurtzel, who is seeking to persuade advertisers that homes without DVRs are skipping more ads than households with the equipment.

Late last year a New York conference heard from the big six networks that recording devices were, in fact, helping to build TV audiences (WAMN: 18-Nov-05].

They claimed that homes with DVRs tended to watch 12% more TV, while 53% of viewers who skipped ads went back later to watch them.

Now, according to Wurtzel, his analysis of Nielsen Media Research data reveals the drop in commercial effectiveness in DVR households is less than 3%. He claims the same analysis of non-DVR households found a drop of 7%.

He avers: "We're not saying that people who use DVRs don't skip commercials. What we are saying is that we've been living with commercial skipping from day one, and yet television remains the most powerful and effective marketing and sales medium ever known."

Media agencies and networks alike are shoring-up their arguments in advance of May's upfront negotiations on airtime costs.

Broadcasters want time-shifted viewing via DVR to be counted as part of audience ratings by advertisers and media agencies. The latter are unwilling to pay networks for anything but live ratings, arguing that additional playback by viewers would bypass their advertising.

The stage is set for tough talks.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff