New figures highlight a growing shift in the way TV is consumed

Time shift viewing is increasingly becoming an integral part of how television is consumed. A recent study of the BARB currency in the UK highlights just how far the service has come.

Timeshift services are available via on and offline via catch up services or through the television set using a Personal Viewing Recorder (PVR). They effectively allow people to create their own viewing schedules. And they're increasingly popular. According to research by BARB/InfoSys+, 8% of all viewing was timeshifted in the UK in January 2011.

Still leading the way

The BARB service in the UK has always been at the forefront of measuring timeshifted viewing. It started in 1991, when VCR playback was first included within its data. Recently, BARB took another step forward: viewing data from catch up services via games consoles, was included in its services for the first time. This added further wealth and value to the data.

Kantar Media's recent analysis of timeshifting shows the top 10 most recorded programmes episodes of all time. Based on  BARB data, and using Kantar Media's TV analysis tool InfoSys+, the research highlights what a large impact timeshifting now has on overall viewing figures.

Time shift viewing of time traveller

An episode of the programme Doctor Who leads the way. An impressive 4.1m viewers chose to timeshift the Doctor - either by watching a recording of the show later that day, or in the following week. The figure represented 46% of the show's total audience. The episode in question, 'The Impossible Astronaut', was the series six opener. This combined with a warm Easter Saturday and the show's cult status, allowed it to shatter all previous records. Although other episodes in the series followed a similar trend, none could top the first.

The figure for Doctor Who easily beat the previous record holder - the 2010 Christmas Day episode of the comedy Come Fly With Me. Other programmes to have proven popular with timeshifters are reality staples: The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and Strictly Come Dancing. These shows all attract a high total audience. For example, The X Factor's 3.17 million time shifted viewers only made up 24% of its overall figures. This proves that some programmes have a greater live pull than others.

Fights for the remote are over

Christmas Day shows, including the first airing of Come Fly with Me and popular soap Eastenders, proved very popular with recorders. This could be put down to the sheer number of not-to-be-missed programmes on during the festive period and the accommodation of different TV tastes of visiting relatives!

With the exception of the Wallace and Gromit film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the top 10 list is made up of programmes from the past year. This is evidence of the growth and penetration of PVRs. BARB's first quarter establishment survey found they are now in 27% of all TV homes. PVR's are now fitted with increasingly sophisticated viewing tools. They can recognise and automatically record favourite shows. They can even record programmes based on your viewing habits. Owners can also set PVRs remotely using their smart phone. Watching your favourite show - at your own leisure - is now easier than ever.

The complete picture

This timeshift research is shown to have even more impact when you consider that Doctor Who was the 20th most popular show in the week it was transmitted when only considering live ratings. When playback is taken into account, the show jumps to sixth place. So, looking at overnight or live viewing figures alone can no longer provide the full picture.

As PVRs continue to become more popular and begin to offer more than the ability to simply record a show, it surely won't be long before the time shifting record is shattered once again.

Dalia Gereis is Commercial Director, Kantar Media Audiences UK. She is based in London.

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