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BARB invests in people meter technology

16 June 2006

BARB is investing in new metering equipment for its current panel, facilitating measurement of new ways of accessing television content.

To complement BARB’s recent introduction of reporting from Sky+ homes, the first use of the new meter is to identify time-shift viewing from other systems of disc playback – non-Sky+ PVR/DVRs and DVD recorders.

The new metering technology, extensively tested by BARB last year, is the ‘Unitam’ people meter device, from AGB Nielsen Media Research, based on a content-matching technology.

Bjarne Thelin, BARB’s Chief Executive said, “This extension of our current techniques is an important step for BARB to keep in touch with the nature of change in television consumption. The investment, which takes effect across this year, will bolster BARB’s ability to measure the changing viewing environment in which viewer control is increasing. It is anticipated to be deployed in up to 10% of BARB panel homes by the end of the year.

“The deployment of Unitam was envisaged when our contract with AGB Nielsen Media Research was extended at the end of 2004 and gives BARB much greater confidence in the ability of the service to remain relevant throughout the life of the current contracts.”

Justin Sampson, MD of AGB Nielsen Media Research UK, said “Unitam’s versatility is designed to deliver effective audience measurement in homes with a high digital capability. As well as providing solutions for generic PVR/DVR devices and DVD recorders, it’s expected that Unitam could offer the potential to monitor other new types of viewing, such as broadcast content on demand.”

BARB introduced daily Sky+ playback reporting in March 2006 and has recently announced other initiatives relating to measurement technology. A new ‘visual barcode’ technique offering potential to expand measurement of interactive services has just begun field testing. And a joint project has been commissioned from TNS, with RAJAR, to set up an R&D panel within the M25. This project will allow BARB to gather knowledge on wireless personal meters which may offer some potential solutions for the future to measure transportable content, and non-wired set home configurations.

BARB also recently hosted ‘UK Television Outlook – A View Into The Future’, a presentation to the industry which shared some scenarios of how viewing may change over time.

Notes to Editors

BARB was set up in 1981 to provide the industry-standard audience measurement service for television broadcasters and the advertising industry. It is a not-for-profit limited company owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, five, BSkyB and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

BARB provides in-home TV viewing measurement for the UK. This is obtained from a panel of 5,100 homes. These homes return data from around 11,500 viewers. Viewing from visitors to the home is included (Guest Viewing). Viewing figures are available to subscribers the morning after transmission. VCR and Sky+ playback is incorporated within 7 days of transmission (Consolidated Viewing). Audiences are reported on a minute-by-minute basis.

The panel design is representative of the whole of the UK. People are recruited from all sectors of the population. All viewing environments in the home are represented. Multiple TV sets are measured. BARB measures both analogue and digital delivery via cable, satellite and terrestrial distribution.

Media enquiries to Debbie Coleman at Brown Lloyd James on 020 7591 9610 (deborahc@blj.co.uk)