Resources Frequently asked questions

What does BARB stand for?

BARB is an acronym for Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.

What is BARB?

BARB was set up in 1981 to provide the industry standard television audience measurement service for broadcasters and the advertising industry. BARB is owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BSkyB and the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) and is a not for profit company limited by guarantee.

BARB commissions research companies to provide the services that our users want, including the production of audience viewing figures. The audience measurement contracts are held by the following companies - RSMB, Ipsos MORI and Kantar Media (formerly known as TNS).

How does the audience measurement process work?

What is the difference between live and consolidated BARB data?

Live data reports viewing that takes place at the time of the original broadcast.

Consolidated data incorporates playback of time-shifted content within 7 days of the original broadcast. This timeshift viewing is added to the live data to produce consolidated viewing data made available 8 days after the original transmission date. Consolidated data is the BARB Gold Standard used by the industry to report and trade on.

Since July 2013 BARB has made available time-shifted viewing up to 28 days after the original transmission. It can be added to the live data. This viewing is not included in the BARB Gold Standard Calculations.

What is the BARB Gold Standard?

The BARB Gold Standard generally refers to the consolidated data which incorporates live and timeshift viewing. This is the official estimate of television viewing. However, any audience measure that has been generated by applying the BARB defined calculation methodology is BARB Gold Standard data. BARB Gold Standard data is used by the industry to report and trade on.

What is VOSDAL data?

VOSDAL stands for Viewing On Same Day As Live. VOSDAL includes timeshift viewing that occurs on the same day as the original broadcast. This is included in the overnight files released at 9.30am the following day. For example, if a film starts at 5.30pm and is recorded for viewing later the same evening, say 9.00pm, this viewing is captured and reported in the overnight file published the following day.

What are database 1 and database 2?

BARB viewing data is collated into two databases; database 1 and database 2.

Database 1 contains the raw viewing statements for each home and individual in the BARB reporting panel for each day, together with all the classification details for each home and individual needed for reporting purposes. Analysis for any audience, including non-standard audiences, can be undertaken with data from database 1. The Lifestyle Insights Survey is analysed in conjunction with database 1.

Database 2 contains pre-processed time-based audiences (based on 1, 5 and 15 minute intervals) as well as audiences for programme transmissions, commercial spots and commercial breaks. Data taken from database 2 is used by the industry for trading purposes.

What age groups are reported by BARB?

All individuals aged 4+ are measured and reported by BARB. Within this, a user may look at any age group they wish.

What is the minimum amount of viewing that can contribute to ratings?

The viewing is reported by clock minute. Each clock minute is attributed to the channel that is viewed the longest within the clock minute subject to there being at least 30 seconds of viewing.

How is the audience for a programme calculated?

Programme audiences are calculated by averaging the audience of all minutes covered by the programme transmission, from the start-time to the end-time of the programme. This calculation excludes any embedded commercial breaks and promotions.

How is the audience for a commercial calculated?

The audience for a commercial is the audience for the clock minute in which the commercial starts.

What happens if you playback programmes from PVRs like Sky+? Is this included?

Yes, non-live viewing from PVRs like Sky+ and other recording devices such as DVDRs are measured and included in the viewing figures as timeshift viewing. If a programme has been viewed on the same day as the original broadcast the viewing will be included in the overnight files as VOSDAL data. Otherwise, if it has been viewed in the 7 days after the original broadcast it will be included in the consolidated data.

What viewing data is available?

BARB viewing data is available for a range of audience data, including overnights, dayparts, programme and commercial information, time lengths, reach and channel share of viewing. Data can be accessed as live, VOSDAL or consolidated data.

How do I get BARB data?

Accessing BARB data is available in two ways. For BARB users (please see how to subscribe) there is the option of purchasing the data sets directly.

Each individual set of data can be purchased as required:

Data Set 1: Daily panel viewing file. (This minute-by-minute file contains anonymous details of panel members' viewing.)

Data Set 2: Daily consolidated 5 minute or 15 minute files and programmes.

Data Set 3: Daily consolidated commercial spots and breaks.

Overnights: 5 minute file of viewing data that is produced the next day, from the previous day's transmission.

Sponsorship File: Weekly file of viewing data for sponsorship events.

Lifestyle Insights (Additional Panel Classification) File: Additional information about panel members' lifestyles and habits, used in conjunction with Data Set 1.

BARB establishment survey data file

The cost of the data sets is listed in Section 3 of the BARB rate card (& terms and conditions of use) [PDF].

As dedicated software is required to interrogate these data sets, the majority of BARB users choose to receive BARB data directly from a data processing bureau. These data processing bureaux have developed user-friendly software programmes for their clients to extract and analyse the data required with ease. BARB itself does not provide audience analyses to subscribers.

Here is a list of the data processing bureaux.

Accessing BARB data via an end user licence - limited usage can be obtained from one of the data processing bureaux, which will administer the licence fee and issue the end user licence on BARB's behalf. Please note that data obtained through an end user licence - limited usage may only be used for internal purposes. If the data is required for external purposes, for example, the reselling of BARB-related services or sharing with third parties, or publishing in any form (electronic or otherwise) a BARB licence is required.

Are the figures which are reported the next day, often called overnights, official figures?

Whilst overnight data are not the final figures as exact programme timings will not have been incorporated and timeshifted viewing remains to be added, they are standard BARB output.

How far back can I access viewing data?

There is BARB data on the website for both the total viewing summary and multi-channel summary beginning w/e 4th January 1998, with top 30 and top 10 programmes commencing w/e 5th July 1998. BARB since 1981 contains the top 10 programmes for each year. Two data bureaux, Kantar Media and RSMB have data going back to 1992 and 1993 respectively.

How do I find viewing figures for a specific programme?

If you know the date, time and channel on which the programme was transmitted, it could be included as part of the top 30 or top 10 programmes within the viewing data section of the website. If it is not, a data bureau will be able to help you. If you do not hold a BARB licence, you may be able to access the data via an end user licence - limited usage. The data bureau will administer both the end user licence - limited usage and the licence fee on BARBs behalf. Please note that data obtained through an end user licence - limited usage may only be used for internal purpose.

I do not have a BARB licence so how can I access BARB data?

Summary share, reach and programme data are available on the website within the viewing data section. Aside from this, for a non BARB licence holder a small amount of data may be purchased via an end user licence - limited usage. An end user licence - limited usage can be obtained from one of the data bureaux which will administer both the end user licence - limited usage and the licence fee on BARBs behalf. Please note that data obtained through an end user licence - limited usage may only be used for internal purposes.

If you are interested in purchasing a BARB licence please go to how to subscribe.

What is the size of the BARB reporting panel?

The BARB reporting panel is 5,100 homes. The panel homes are located across the UK and represent the viewing of all individuals aged 4 and over within the household (plus their guests) and return data on a daily basis from around 11,500 people. All digital terrestrial, satellite and cable platforms are represented.

How long do the panel members serve?

In general, panel members are recruited to be on the panel for as long as they wish. There is no maximum length of membership.

Are panel members paid?

Panel members are not paid for participating on the BARB panel. Instead they are thanked for taking part with a choice of gift vouchers from a variety of outlets that appeals to all ages. They also receive a regular panel newsletter that includes competitions and opportunities to enter free prize draws.

What happens if a home decides not to continue as part of the panel?

The BARB panel is designed to allow for continual change. Panel controls are deployed to ensure that the panel remains representative of the UK as homes leave to be replaced by newly recruited homes. A predictive model selects likely recruitment requirements based on anticipated participation rates.

What procedures are there to ensure that the data collected from panel households is correct?

Quality control procedures are carried out on a continuous basis to ensure that the panel members are following the correct procedures. Telephone checks are made to panel homes to verify that excessive viewing to one particular channel or nil viewing is genuine viewing behaviour, for example.

What happens if a panel home goes on holiday?

The panel home will remain part of the daily reporting panel.

What happens if a panel home gets new equipment?

An engineer will be sent to the panel home to connect the peoplemeter to the new equipment to ensure that the viewing is captured and measured. Whilst this is taking place, the panel home may be temporarily taken off the reporting panel until quality control checks are passed.

Can I join the BARB panel?

You cannot volunteer to join the panel. Panel households are selected randomly, with controls in place to ensure that all sectors of the population and all TV viewing environments in the home are represented. Every home has a chance of being selected to join the panel.

How is television viewing defined?

Panel members, or their guests, are defined to be viewing when they are present in a room with a television set switched on.

What is a universe?

The universe is a population estimate for a particular audience category. BARB universes are based on television homes. For example, the network universe for ABC1 Women is the total estimated population of ABC1 Women living within television households in the UK.

What is the BARB establishment survey?

The BARB establishment survey is a continuous survey undertaken to determine the ownership of television equipment and demographic characteristics of the population and includes some 53,000 interviews per year. Results are used to determine the panel controls against which the panel is maintained and to provide the universes of each demographic category required for reporting viewing data. BARB establishment survey respondents also provide the pool of households from which BARB panel homes are recruited.

What is the Lifestyle Insights Survey?

Lifestyle Insights enable BARB users to analyse viewing behaviour relative to viewers interests and activities, in addition to the standard demographic categories, to produce more specifically defined groups.

All BARB panel members aged 16 and over are sent a self-completion questionnaire which provides additional information about them, such as their interests and hobbies, what they do for entertainment, their media consumption, internet usage, the kind of holidays they take, what type of car they drive etc., as well as a set of attitudinal statements, some of which cover broadcasting and advertising. There are hundreds of additional classifications for panel members detailing, for example, frequency of airline travel, fitness, cooking and interest in the environment. Specific groups can be identified and their viewing separately analysed, gardeners or those especially interested in business matters, for example.

How many channels are BARB reported?

At present there are over 275 channels that are separately measured and reported. A comprehensive list of BARB reported channels (excluding interactive channels) can be found on the total viewing summary.

Is every television channel that can be viewed in the UK measured?

Yes, every broadcast channel that can be viewed in the UK is measured but only those channels that a broadcaster requests to be measured are reported individually. Viewing to all other channels is combined and reports as other viewing, which contributes to total viewing.

Does BARB measure out of home viewing?

BARB does not measure viewing undertaken outside of residential households. Visitors to panel households are asked to record their viewing. This is known as guest viewing. Guests are asked to provide details of their sex and age group via the peoplemeter handset. This provides an estimate of viewing that takes place outside the viewers own home but within another private household.

Does BARB report the audiences for radio stations that are on the digital television platforms?

No, radio audience data is provided by RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) www.rajar.co.uk.