BARB Explained

BARB Explained: The router meter solution

15 January 2019
Project Dovetail FAQs

In the first part of last month’s BARB Explained, we saw how the meters attached to TV sets, PCs and tablets in panel households enable us to identify who is watching television and which device they are using.

These software meters, together with the device-based census data we collect from PCs, tablets and smartphones, mean we can track viewing regardless of when or how a programme was watched. But there are still some types of viewing that are opaque to us, and this is why we are introducing a new technology: router meters.

Router meters are attached to the broadband routers in panel homes. They track streaming activity by any member of the household on any device, with their consent.

Router meters will enable us to deliver the following service improvements:

Firstly, they will enable us to distinguish whether post-broadcast viewing was done through a tagged BVOD service or via playback of a PVR recording. Currently, we can only make this distinction in panel homes with Sky; router meters will extend this capability to all panel homes.

Secondly, router meters will enable us to measure our panel members’ viewing on smartphones. At present, we have device-based census data for smartphone viewing; router meters will enable us to report the demographic profiles of smartphone viewing.

Finally, router meters will give us greater insight into unidentified viewing (TV set viewing that we cannot identify, which accounted for over 20% of total TV set use in 2019). A significant part of unidentified viewing is comprised of viewing to SVOD and online video services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. Subject to further evaluation, we anticipate that router meters will facilitate the reporting of aggregate-level viewing of these services.

The router meters will only track video streaming activity from a designated list of BVOD, SVOD and online video services; other types of internet activity will not be tracked. All data collected from router meters in panel homes will be subject to the same secure handling and anonymisation processes that are currently applied to BARB data.

January 2020 update: We commissioned Kantar to install its router meter technology into the BARB panel of homes in June 2019. Kantar is in the process of installing its router meters into new and existing BARB panel homes, and all eligible homes are expected to have had a router meter installed by the end of 2020. The initial publication date for data from the meters is expected in early 2021.