The TV networks finally seem to be comin…

The TV networks finally seem to be coming to their senses. The New York Times reports that network executives are beginning to see what many of us knew all along: DVRs are a good thing.

Against almost every expectation, nearly half of all people watching delayed shows are still slouching on their couches watching messages about movies, cars and beer. According to Nielsen, 46 percent of viewers 18 to 49 years old for all four networks taken together are watching the commercials during playback, up slightly from last year.

And rather unsurprisingly, when you include DVR playbacks, ratings for some shows improve dramatically. The article mentions substantial ratings boosts for shows like House, Heroes, and FlashForward; the biggest increase was for The Office, which gained 26 percent when DVRs were included.

In an ironic twist, the article also mentions the so-called “Leno effect”: topical shows like talk shows have lower relative viewership when DVRs are included (nobody wants to watch a topical show three days later). While the networks used to consider it a good thing for a show to be “DVR-proof,” they’re realizing that that just means fewer people will watch.

In an unrelated but equally heartening story, Ars Technica reports on a survey showing that consumers of P2P music downloads end up buying more music than they otherwise would, not less. Which means the record labels have been busily persecuting their biggest customers. Are we surprised?