Monday, July 31, 2006
Does TiVo Cause You to Watch More TV?
Theory makes no clear prediction about how DVRs should affect total TV viewing. DVRs lower the price of TV viewing -- both by reducing the time needed to watch a program and by allowing people to watch programs when it is most convenient (i.e., the opportunity costs are lowest). These potentially allow me to increase the number of shows I commit to watching and increase the total amount of TV watched. Alternatively, as I discussed previously, DVRs lower the price of alternative activities because I no longer have to worry if I am going to miss an episode of 24 or Lost if I make plans for a Monday or Wednesday night. I know my TiVo is going to record them, and I can watch it whenever I feel like. As such, I only end up watching the shows I really want to watch and not the other crap that I was only watching because I didn't have anything else to do before or after the show I actually cared to watch.
So the theoretical effect of a DVR is ambiguous. Ultimately, the lack of random assignment of DVRs makes resolving this ambiguity impossible. I think David's suggestion to use the availability of cable provided DVRs (in the comments to my previous post) may be the best bet to actually resolve this question.
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