According to APM Marketplace about 17% of Americans have DVRs that can zip past commercials. My strategy is to start watching a show like Lost or 24, 15 minutes after its start time, so that I can skip through all the commercials and finish watching the same time as someone without DVR.
Thanks to new data studies by Nielson Media Research, executives can determine a good estimate of how many people actually watch commercials. It turns out more than half of audiences skip commercials and this rate will surely increase as DVR technology saturates the market.
Seth Godin coined the phrase, The TV Industrial Complex, in which firms bought TV ads to build demand for their products, which then created additional revenues that they put into additional ads, and on and on. But as the DVR adoption rate increases, the perfectly efficient market of quality TV for ad views will inevitably crumble. Although advertisers are using creative ways to catch the attention of viewers, such as mini-shows and more product placement, no rational human will choose to watch commercials they can skip. Will television shows have to go to a pay per view format? Will free TV become only as good as PBS shows?
Source: APM Marketplace Podcast, Jun 1,2007 (at the 17:21 mark)