Summary:

Sure, most of us have seen statistics showing that digital video recorders are now in more than 40 percent of American homes. But how much a…

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Sure, most of us have seen statistics showing that digital video recorders are now in more than 40 percent of American homes. But how much are people actually using their DVRs? Well, according to Nielsen, usage is growing rapidly.

A new Nielsen report found that DVR use now accounts for about 8 percent of viewing time — up from just 1.6 percent in 2006. Leading the charge, the research company says, are female viewers ages 18-54, who typically time-shift 10 percent of their viewing.

Over the same five-year span, according to Nielsen, viewing of live television declined from 89 percent to 85 percent each day for the typical U.S. watcher. But overall usage is slightly up — analyzing the first four weeks of the 2011-12 TV season, Nielsen found that U.S. watchers, on average, consumed a total of 19 minutes more tube time year over year.

Nielsen also found that DVRs are rendering network schedules moot: In 2006, only 2.2 percent of viewers 18-49 said they watched both of the two top programs that were scheduled against each other — Fox’s American Idol and CBS’ NCIS, at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays; last season, fully 7 percent said they regularly watched ABC’s Castle and CBS’ Hawaii Five-O, even though they opposed each other at 10 p.m. on Monday.

Certainly, top manufacturers of digital video recorders have more demand than they can supply right now, with flooding in the hard-disk manufacturing hub of Thailand cutting into DVR production wherewithal. According to a report issued Wednesday by IMS Research, DVR production will decline by 30 percent for 2012. The production deficit likely won’t result in higher consumer prices in the U.S. the firm states, but lower profits for set-top box manufacturers including Technicolor and Western Digital.

“Pay-TV consumers will not feel the price hike to the extent that operators and STB manufacturers will,” said Anna Maxbauer, senior analyst at IMS Research. “Operators understand that consumers’ willingness to absorb shocks in the equipment ecosystem is very limited.”

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