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New TV audience measurement service

25 November 2009

The new BARB television audience measurement service will start on 1 January 2010, following extensive testing of a new system, the introduction of new methodologies, improved geographical design and a new viewing panel.

Bjarne Thelin, CEO of BARB, launched ‘BARB 2010’ at a presentation to the industry in London today.

‘BARB 2010 is set up and ready to provide the industry with “gold standard” currency,’ he said. ‘Much of the new system is similar in concept to the current one, but there are important changes, including a completely new viewing panel – so there will be some differences in the output. In a parallel run assessment (for 4 weeks ending 8 November) overall viewing to BARB reported channels is around 4% higher comparing the new BARB panel to the existing BARB panel.’

The regional commercial overlapping areas (originally defined by analogue terrestrial reception) will be replaced by definitions that do not overlap. A map of the new reporting regions was sent to BARB subscribers in June.

A completely new panel is now in place, representative of the UK television household population including better ethnic profiles and improved representation by multi-platform homes, as well as metropolitan, urban and rural populations.

Bjarne Thelin said, ‘While BARB 2010 won’t be a radically different service at the outset, flexibility for the future has been created by changes in structure and methodology. We have our eye on the future and know the service will keep on developing.’ He added ‘BARB has to be completely satisfied with any techniques before we can consider incorporating them into the core service – we will continue to ensure the integrity of the core service, and to maintain the integrity and clarity of our data.’

He stressed that the service continually evolves and already includes the ability to monitor devices for on-demand playback (such as games consoles, PCs, set top boxes and other devices) where they are viewed through a TV set. He said that specific PC and laptop viewing solutions continue to be evaluated and, following much development by suppliers, hoped that a test panel could soon be created.

In December 2007 BARB awarded four new six-year contracts for the provision of research services that would support the BARB service from January 2010. In the two years since the award of the contracts, BARB has worked with its new contractors to establish the panel, and every aspect of the new service has been closely monitored.

In 2010, BARB will be reporting approximately 300 itemised channels – channels that broadcasters request to be reported. All other channels are grouped together with their viewing combined and reported as ‘other viewing’.

Contractors

  • RSMB – for survey design, quality control and calculation methodology
  • Ipsos MORI – for measuring the characteristics of the television-owning population
  • TNS – for the recruitment, establishment and maintenance of a new viewing panel of 5100 homes; and for meter panel installation, data retrieval, processing and audience reporting

Notes to Editors

BARB started reporting UK television audiences in 1981, providing 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 individuals. Viewing from visitors to the home is included (Guest Viewing). Viewing figures are available to subscribers the morning after transmission. VCR, PVR and other on-demand playback via a TV set 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 types of TV set viewing in the home are represented. Multiple TV sets are measured. BARB measures analogue and digital delivery via cable, satellite and terrestrial distribution.

Media enquiries to Sheila Thompson or Lisa Farrell on 0207 591 9610 (sheilat@blj.co.uk) or (lisaf@blj.co.uk)