NEW YORK — The company that gauges how many viewers are tuning in to network television shows will start including the use of digital video recorders in the data it collects.

Next week, Nielsen Media Research will start measuring what people record on DVRs to watch later. The move represents an acknowledgements of how television habits are changing. And if Nielsen’s new numbers show a dramatic change in which shows are popular, it could shake up a multibillion-dollar system.

Nielsen expects a quarter of the nation’s homes with televisions to have DVR systems by 2007, up from 7 percent of the 110 million TV-viewing homes.

Until now, Nielsen has excluded homes with DVR when it signs up the estimated 9,000 families that make up its national sample of homes. These families haven’t been included until now because Nielsen was refining technology to work with the recorders.

The updated scanners will be able to tell when something that has been recorded is actually watched and even know when people fast-forward through commercials. Nielsen hasn’t said how it plans to use the data about people skipping commercials.

Nielsen plans to gradually add DVR homes until the number in its survey reflect the percentage of homes with recorders nationwide.

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