New culture of hoarding
Later on ... Revenge wasn't wiped out by The Block, it just timeshifted.
We are the army of the night, but not necessarily the same night. We want everything and we want it, well, when convenient. We are 9 million strong and growing.
The commercial TV networks hate us because they say we ''steal'' their programs without doing our consumerist duty of watching the ads. But they don't mind boasting about us when it suits them to say a show that looks like a flop is actually a hit.
We are the timeshifters. And some of us (maybe most of us) are cultural hoarders.
Pause ... the majority of Private Practice viewers record it to watch later.
The ratings measurement agency, OzTAM, estimates that 44per cent of Australian households have the ability to record programs for later viewing (and fast-forwarding through the commercials).
OzTAM has added technology to the people-meter boxes attached to TV sets in a sample of 3100 capital city homes so that it can measure what people record and watch within seven days of the original broadcast.
That gives us a new insight into the way Australians manipulate their favourite medium. A nation of multitaskers, in the habit of getting everything it wants, has comfortably added timeshifting to its array of skills.
When The Voice started on Channel Nine, observers thought it had wiped Australia's favourite drama, Revenge, off the ratings map. The mainland capitals' audience for Revenge dropped from nearly 2million viewers to a little more than 1million.
But when OzTAM's timeshifting figures appeared a week later, we realised the Revenge fans were not fickle at all - they had simply postponed their pleasure in order to be among the early adopters of The Voice. On that night, 294,000 people in the mainland capitals set their recorders to capture Revenge while they watched The Voice.
It joined an elite group of record-breakers that included an episode of Homeland in February (309,000), an episode of Angry Boys in May last year (280,000) and an episode of Underbelly: Razor in February (280,000).
In a normal week, our bonus viewing looks more like this:
The most timeshifted regular shows
1. Private Practice (audience boosted 65 per cent by timeshifts);
2. The Amazing Race (audience boosted 54 per cent);
3. Alcatraz (boosted 49 per cent);
4. The Good Wife (up 34 per cent);
5. Desperate Housewives (33 per cent).
Those titles might lead you to suspect that most timeshifters are women, and you'd be right. Of the 294,000 people who recorded Revenge against The Voice, 230,000 were women. Could this be because dad insists on controlling the remote? Mum programs the recorder but she learnt long ago it's good to let dad think he's in charge of something.
But there's a group beyond the timeshifters that OzTAM does not measure - people who watch a recorded show more than seven days later. They are engaged in what we might call cultural hoarding.
I polled the participants in the online forum attached to this column, asking them to confess what they were hoarding. Within 48 hours I had a vast list and these two responses were typical:
From Em: ''I have Foxtel IQ. Currently have Gossip Girl, Chuck, Person of Interest, Touch, numerous episodes of ER, Being Human season 4, assorted movies. The other day I was over at my daughter's and noticed she had every episode of the last season of Dr Who on her IQ, plus a heap of The West Wing!''
From Jen13: ''I'm a hoarder and I record via a Foxtel IQ, a Panasonic VCR/DVD duo, and a Sony DVD recorder. If I really like something (eg Dr Who, Spooks, Game of Thrones, Damages) I keep them after I've watched them. I buy DVD sets, too, and have been known to download.''
Those women are the future. We're about to become a nation of hoarders.
To discuss your watching and hoarding habits, see smh.com.au/opinion/blog/the-tribal-mind.