Along with the rise of DVRs and on-demand video streaming services came a shift in the way people consume TV content. As consumers are no longer forced to watch their favorite TV show whenever the network chooses to air it, more and more people embrace the freedom to watch whenever it fits their schedule.
Looking at audience figures published by premium cable network Showtime and first reported by Quartz
makes clear how much TV viewing habits have changed over the past few years. While the first season of Dexter, which aired in 2006 was predominantly watched live, the latest season of Homeland, which aired last year, was mostly viewed time-shifted. According to a network representative, "the proportion of live viewing over the course of the week is almost the mirror opposite of what it was in 2006”.
And yet, despite this obvious shift, a show’s ratings are still reported the day after it first airs, using the live-plus-same-day metric (which includes DVR viewing the same night of a show’s premiere). Using the example of Homeland's third season, this metric would cover less than half of the shows weekly audience and is hence not an accurate measure of a shows popularity.