Brian Williams Wants You to DVR the News, but You Won't

Last Updated Nov 16, 2010 12:22 PM EST

Yes, we're using our DVDs to watch more and more of our TV when we want. No, despite what NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams says, that doesn't apply to the news.

The reason it's time to bring this up is that Williams just taped a promo (sorry, it has proven impossible to find online) telling people they should record the evening news -- an argument that is precisely half right, which also means it's half wrong. Williams reasons that since he himself DVRs shows such as 30 Rock and Modern Family -- and that people tell him they DVR the news -- than perhaps the concept should be promoted when it comes to his broadcast.

While it's always a good idea to try to build viewership, there's not a lot of evidence that taping of the news goes beyond a very small segment. Williams is right that time-shifted viewing is becoming more and more of a habit, but the bulk of it applies to very specific types of programming -- namely scripted shows, particularly ones that get in the way of other viewing, like live NFL games.

What viewers seem to be thinking is that the taped stuff can wait, while that night's playoff game or airing of Dancing with the Stars cannot. Another strike against the idea of DVR-ing the news is that, despite what New York Magazine says, the news' DVR audience won't have much impact on ratings. While some scripted shows are showing healthy double digit percentage jumps in viewers once DVR viewing is counted in, the Nielsen numbers that show those results usually count viewing for at least three days after a show initially aired. Is anyone going to watch Monday night's news on Thursday?

So, while urging people to DVR a show has its charms, it's not a winning game for everyone -- and the nightly news looks like a loser.

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