While anecdotal evidence suggests that men are more likely to monopolize the remote, a new study suggests that women are in the driver’s seat when it comes to using a digital video recorder.

In a national survey of 1,000 DVR users divided equally by sex, 48 percent of married women say the decision to purchase a DVR was their own, while 55 percent of the wives claim they understood how to interface with their unit’s myriad features better than their husbands.

The study, which was commissioned by Lifetime, offered “dramatic and counterintuitive results,” said Tim Brooks, the network’s senior vp of research. Of key interest to advertisers is the discovery that women are more likely to stop fast forwarding through commercials if a brand or product captures their attention.

While 99 percent of women say they use their DVRs to zap through commercial spots, 76 percent reported that they stopped for ads that are entertaining or relevant to their own interests. Women are also more likely to pause for TV and movie promos.

“DVRs give them a mechanism to find commercials that are relevant, and that’s a big message,” Brooks said. “It’s not that people don’t want commercials, it’s irrelevant interruptions that turn them off.”

A full 94 percent of those who said they fast forwarded commercials said they could still recognize brands and products as they zapped through the spots.

A major selling point for women was the ease with which they can interact with their DVRs, Brooks said, adding that the research suggests that cable operators wishing to drive DVR usage might want to consider comparing the devices to a familiar (and frustrating) technology in common use.

“Three-quarters of the women surveyed said that the reason they fell in love with DVR is that they are extremely intuitive and much easier than a VCR,” Brooks said. “Rather than selling DVRs as techie tools and having the marketing message come from the engineering department, [operators] need to simplify” their DVR pitches.

Overall, 98 percent of the women surveyed said they would recommend DVR to a friend, and 94 percent said the service was “worth the cost.”

By Anthony Crupi

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