Tuning in to TV

DVR viewers giving shows boost in Nielsen ratings

ABC’s “Modern Family” may not be the top-rated comedy on television, but it’s the one most viewers catch up with on their digital video recorders.

According to the Associated Press, through the first two weeks of the season, the Nielsen Co. said an average of 4.5 million viewers watched a recording of “Modern Family” after it first appeared on the air. That lifted the show’s viewership from nearly 14 million people who watched it live to 18.5 million.

It was the prime-time program that got the biggest lift when Nielsen’s measurement of who watches shows on a DVR within seven days is added in. Networks are increasingly watching this new ratings measurement as DVR penetration increases.

Eight shows besides “Modern Family” saw their audiences grow by more than 3 million when the DVR statistics were added. Six are on CBS, led by “Two and a Half Men.” ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and Fox’s “Terra Nova” also picked up significant time-shifted viewing.

By percentage, the two-week champ was Fox’s “Fringe.” It airs live on Fox on Friday night, when many of the network’s young viewers are out, and saw its viewership increase by 45 percent from 3.3 million to 5 million with DVRs added in.

NBC’s ratings this season are abysmal, but one ray of light is that the network’s “Parenthood,” “Prime Suspect” and “Up All Night” increased their audiences by more than 30 percent through DVRs, Nielsen said.

The DVR numbers could be the difference between life and death for marginal series. ABC’s just-canceled “Charlie’s Angels” had virtually the same live audience as its new episode of “Pan Am” last week, but during the first two weeks of the season the percentage of people who watched “Pan Am” on DVR was more than twice that of “Charlie’s Angels.”

AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’ delivers in season premiere

AMC network says “The Walking Dead” began its second season with a vengeance, delivering 7.3 million viewers for Sunday’s premiere telecast.

According to the Associated Press, AMC reported Monday that the zombie drama went on to boost its total viewership to 11 million viewers for the night’s three airings of the episode.

This eclipsed the year-ago audience for the series, which emerged as a surprise hit by averaging 5.2 million viewers weekly during that first season.

Based on the popular comic book of the same name, “The Walking Dead” depicts the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse confronted by a group of survivors outside Atlanta. Its cast includes Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal and Sarah Wayne Callies.

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