In the popular TV series Sex and the City, one of the single characters described her relationship to her TiVo DVR with the kind of affection that might be used to talk about a boyfriend. A new report Wednesday from NDS Group indicates that many others feel the same way.
The international survey of 1,000 owners of digital video recorders found that the device has already obtained the status of second-most-essential technology in the household, after mobile phones.
Only Washing Machines, Microwaves Better
Among household appliances, the ability to get hot meals and clean clothes were the only functions ranked higher than being able to easily record TV on a DVR. That's because only washing machines and microwave ovens are considered more indispensable among appliances.
In addition to individuals such as the Sex and the City character, DVRs can be enjoyable for couples as well. The study found that DVR owners with partners say the device "makes for a happier home life." And the level of satisfaction is not limited to the U.S., where 89 percent of Americans say the DVR increases their enjoyment of TV. In Britain, 81 percent of viewers agree, as do 80 percent of Australians and 78 percent of Italians.
Part of the reason is the ease of use, since 61 percent of those surveyed said a DVR is "much easier to operate" than a videocassette recorder. About 58 percent said they are watching more interesting programs, since the DVR allows watching any TV program at any time, without having to record it on a VCR.
In fact, many users want another DVR -- 52 percent of Americans, 30 percent of British, 49 percent of Australians, and 57 percent of Italians.
The London-based NDS has some interest in the results of this survey. It is a provider of DVR technology to pay-TV operators worldwide.
People 'Love Them'
Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Jupitermedia, said he was "not really surprised." He noted that, although it's taken a decade for DVRs to become relatively widespread in the consumer market, "people who have them love them."
One reason it took so long, he noted, was because it was originally hard to explain. "When you told people it could record TV, they said they have a VCR," he added. It took a while for people to realize that, with one-button recording on the TV schedule, DVRs could dramatically change the TV-watching experience.
Gartenberg expects DVR growth to continue, and, as it does, TV watching to change from "watch this show at this time." In fact, he said some viewers are already moving into wanting or having "a premium DVR experience" with high-definition recording, the ability to record several channels while watching live TV, and more.
He also noted that DVR makers are using this growth to position DVRs as hubs for family entertainment, with downloading of movies and music in addition to TV recording.