BARB Explained

BARB Explained: Broadband-only homes

1 November 2018

Since our formation in 1981, we have been measuring and reporting viewing in television homes in the UK; these are private homes with at least one working TV set, and accounted for 27 million or 95% of UK homes in the year ending Q2 2018. But in recent years, the rise in programmes being delivered online and on-demand has resulted in us identifying a new type of home: broadband-only homes.

Broadband-only homes have a broadband connection but no TV set; nonetheless, the occupants of these homes have the ability to watch television online on devices, so it’s important that our audience measurement currency accounts for viewing in these households too.

We can estimate the number of broadband-only homes in the UK, and find out about the type of people that live in them, thanks to our Establishment Survey. Every week, over 1000 households across the country are interviewed for the Establishment Survey. From this, we work out the types of households we need on our panel to make sure that it is representative of the whole of the UK. We then recruit households to be on the panel that suit the necessary characteristics.

The Establishment Survey shows that in the year ending Q2 2018, 1.04 million or 3.66% of UK homes were broadband-only, without TV sets (see chart). It also gives us an insight into the demographics of these households. Compared to the national average, broadband-only homes are 80% more likely to have a 16-34-year-old, and 32% less likely to contain children under the age of 16. London households are twice as likely to be broadband-only, while people from black and minority-ethnic backgrounds are more than 2.5 times more likely than the national average to live in a home with broadband but no TV set. People in broadband-only homes are also more commonly from the socioeconomic groups B, C1 and D.

Source: BARB Establishment Survey.
Data for each quarter are based on the 12 months ending in the quarter specified.

As a result, we have recruited 200 broadband-only homes to join the BARB panel, bringing the total number of panel homes to 5,300. Broadband-only homes are now also included in our new definition of total TV, total three-screen viewing, and in the BARB universe.

BARB’s previous definition of total TV encompassed all time spent watching on a TV set. This included viewing up to seven days after the time of broadcast and was reported across all television homes. Total three-screen viewing adds the new forms of viewing that we report: timeshifted viewing on TV sets up to 28 days after broadcast; viewing to programmes that haven’t featured in a linear schedule (with the cooperation of the broadcaster); viewing of BVOD services on tablets and PCs and viewing in broadband-only homes. We will launch this new definition when we start to report multiple-screen reach and time spent viewing.

Broadband-only homes are also now included in the BARB universe. Previously our universe was private households in the UK with at least one working TV set. We have extended the universe to include private households with a broadband connection and no TV set; we measure viewing on tablets and PCs in these homes. The new broadband-only homes on the panel add approximately 3% to the universe.

What is the impact of including broadband-only homes in total three-screen viewing and the BARB universe? We know that people in broadband-only homes are less likely to be television viewers as they don’t have a TV set, although they can watch online television on their devices.

This means that there is an increase in the actual number of viewers when we include broadband-only homes in the universe. However, this increase in numbers is not as big as the increase in number of additional people in the universe; this means that reach, or the proportion of people viewing, will be lower than in the previous definition of total TV.

The inclusion of broadband-only homes is just one of the ways in which we are developing our measurement system to reflect the ways in which people are watching television today. To find out more about the other formats of television viewing that we now report, such as non-linear viewing and viewing on non-TV devices, check out the rest of the BARB Explained series.