Mediapost’s Media Daily News

New dramatic research suggests the majority of viewers don’t leave the room during commercial breaks — or even change channels.

What are they doing? It may come as a shock to TV marketers that have been told otherwise: Viewers are watching TV commercials.

Disputing long-standing research of commercial avoidance, the new study says 86% of viewers remain with live TV during commercials. A new Video Consumer Mapping research was sponsored by the Council for Research Excellence, conducted throughout 2008 by researchers from Ball State University and Sequent Partners.

According to the study, only 14% of viewers change channels during commercials.

Some 11% of viewers change channels during the four minutes of TV programming before the commercial break; 13% change channels in the four-minute period after programming returns.

The study says there is a similar pattern when it comes to TV viewers moving to other rooms when the TV set is on: 19% change rooms in the four minutes before a commercial break; 20% during; and 21% in the four minutes after programming returns.

VCM contends that most adults are exposed on average to 73 minutes of live TV commercials or other TV messaging daily. Viewers on average see 26 advertising or TV program promo breaks daily, an average length of 2 minutes and 46 seconds per break.

55% of viewers were found to be engaged solely with media during the two minutes of TV programming prior to commercial breaks. The VCM study says the number actually grows to 56% following just before a commercial appears.

All told, the Video Consumer Mapping study observed 376 adults, what is calls the largest and most extensive observational study of media usage ever conducted. This generated data covering more than three-quarters of a million minutes or a total of 752 observed days.