BARB awards 6-year research contracts 18 December 2007

18 December 2007

BARB (a joint company of BBC, ITV, Channel 4, five, BSkyB and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) has today entered into four new contracts for the provision of research services that will support the BARB service from 1st January 2010. The contracts will run for six years from that date with an option to extend.

BARB’s aim has been to devise a system that will service current industry needs while being adaptable to the demands of a new decade of television.

A contract for Survey Design, Quality Control & Calculation Methodology has been awarded to RSMB – taking on an increasingly future-facing role to consider new televisual distribution routes.

The second, covering BARB’s Establishment Survey, has been awarded to Ipsos MORI and will survey the characteristics of the television-owning population and include an element of direct recruitment for the viewing panel. The survey’s specification has been upgraded to ensure that it remains at the forefront of research practice.

The third contract, awarded to TNS, is a recruitment function to establish and maintain the new BARB viewing panel. This function has been upgraded to draw on a greater field force.

The fourth, covering Meter Panel Installation, Data Retrieval, Processing and Audience Reporting functions, has also been awarded to TNS.

The system will have capacity to measure more timeshift – an increasingly important part of viewing. BARB already reports playback from VCRs, PVRs and DVD Recorders, and will extend to encompass VOD services consumed via TV sets. A new non-linear database is expected to be introduced for timeshifted viewing beyond the 7 days included in the main BARB databases, and stand-alone pieces of content available on-demand via TV sets.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, Bjarne Thelin, Chief Executive of BARB, said: “BARB has considered numerous innovative proposals over a rigorous 16-month tendering process. Only a handful are sufficiently proven to be accepted by the industry at present. BARB is committing to a system (based around TNS’ Fixed Meter) which is state of the art, but with potential to be further developed to incorporate new techniques and keep pace with a rapidly changing industry.”

BARB expects to trial PC monitoring via both fixed meters and software metering and, if successful, will consider rolling functionality throughout the full panel. Potential extension to laptops and transportable devices could also be forthcoming.

BARB has an option to test an innovative approach to wireless metering which combines the TNS Fixed Meter to which BARB is committing for its base service, with the PPM (Portable People Meter) from Arbitron. If this is proven to BARB’s satisfaction then a range of possibilities could open up to extend the range of viewing capture.

RSMB and Ipsos MORI hold similar contracts in the current service. TNS previously held contracts for the operation of the BARB Panel and the delivery of the service prior to 2002, when AGB Nielsen Media Research (formerly ATR UK) took over delivery of the service.

The new service will be designed around a UK panel rather than overlapping regional panels and will be more representative of the distribution of the population. Regional reporting will still be facilitated, and regional controls will still apply. The BARB viewing panel sample size remains at 5,100 homes but, owing to these design improvements, statistical benefits will be forthcoming.

Although the new service will commence in January 2010, BARB is working towards the system being tested by 2009 and fully reporting in a parallel run mode during the second quarter of 2009.

Metering equipment has already been successfully tested in laboratory and home environments.

Mr. Thelin added: “We are confident that the new contract framework, design features, and suppliers will take the already world leading BARB service forward to meet the developing needs of the industry.”


For Further Information:

Media calls to Sheila Thompson ( Debbie Coleman ( 020 7591 9610.

Notes to Editors

BARB Underwriters:


Chris Mundy, BBC’s Head of Audiences commented “BBC research shows that viewers are beginning to embrace new ways to consume audio visual content It’s been important for BARB to commission a service at the leading edge of current practice and it also has options to extend measurement as new techniques are developed and proven. New television distribution routes are at the forefront of most broadcasters’ minds and we have designed a system that will be forward facing.”
Press Contact: Roy Templeton,, Tel: 0208 576 1865


Andy Bagnall, Director of Business Development, ITV Brand and Commercial, said “BARB’s prime objective remains to measure all viewing taking place in home. Acknowledging that the types of televisual equipment continue to widen, the new service is designed to take us closer to that objective. At the same time the fundamental changes to the geographic structure of the panel are designed to improve the read of audiences nationally which naturally is important to us as well as to retain a quality read of regional audiences which remain core to our activity.”
Press Contact: Kate Smith,, Tel: 084488 18216

Channel Four:

Claire Grimmond, Channel Four’s Controller of Research and Insight said “The task of finding a system that will be able to adapt to technological advancements has been a challenge but we are confident that the decisions that we have taken in the award of new contracts, the new service specification, and further possibilities for development, will enable us to progress in the years to come.“
Press Contact: Becky New,, Tel: 0207 306 3751


David Harrison, five’s Director of Knowledge added “With more channels and a wider range of content distribution opportunities, requirements from the BARB system have been re-evaluated. The service we’re committing to is expected to enable BARB to continue to lead the world and adapt to developing needs. The new panel design will bring statistical efficiencies to BARB and be a more appropriate design for a fully digital world.”
Press Contact: Paul Leather,, Tel: 0207 550 5541


Julian Dobinson, BSkyB’s Director of Insight – Content commented “The tender process has been extensive and as part of it we’ve considered how viewing may change in the future – for example, time-shift will be growing throughout the life of the new contracts. It’s been important to ensure that the system has the capacity and structure to reflect this. A new non-linear database could be a significant step forward for the service.”
Press Contact: Stephen Gaynor,, Tel: 02077053446


Said Hamish Pringle, Director General of the IPA ‘The new contracts lay the foundations for BARB to provide an industry measure of the future televisual environment for broadcasters, advertisers and their agencies.The IPA looks forward to working with BARB and its future contractors to address these exciting challenges.’
Press Contact: Sylvia Ogden,, Tel: 0207 201 8247

Industry Consultation:

System requirements were discussed with the industry prior to the launch, and at key points throughout, the Tendering Process.

BARB launched a consultation – ‘Future Into View’ – with the industry in 2005 seeking to clarify industry priorities prior to the formal launch of the Tendering Process in August 2006 on BARB’s 25th anniversary. Updates with numerous stakeholders since then have allowed BARB to stay in touch with a dynamic industry.

BARB’s ‘blueprint’ launched in 2006 remains the concept for the structure of the service, with modular elements able to be incorporated as techniques become proven, and if the industry determines such additions to be beneficial.

The Tendering Process:

The process has been thorough and extensive, involving consideration of new approaches and ideas. The process has included consideration of methodological approaches and evaluation of tenderers’ submissions, including (where relevant) demonstration and lab tests, consultants’ evaluations, field tests, and an understanding of any requirements for broadcaster implementation. A high degree of emphasis has been placed on set-up planning and implementation prior to contract award.


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 whose members are the 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 members and subscribers the morning after transmission. VCR and PVR 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.


RSMB Television Research Limited was established to offer high quality design and operations in the field of television audience measurement. It has been a contractor to BARB since 1989; RSMB has responsibility for design of the various components which make up the current UK audience measurement service and for quality control across the system. It exercises this in partnership with BARB and the other contractors. RSMB also operates as a BARB bureau and provides a range of special analyses of aspects of the audience data.

RSMB is a leading specialist research agency and statistical consultancy operating across various media, both within the UK and internationally – including for RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research Ltd) and IPA TouchPoints initiative. RSMB is an independent company jointly owned by Kantar and Havas.

Ipsos MORI:

Ipsos UK and MORI joined together in October 2005 to create the second largest research company in the UK. Ipsos MORI’s 900+ UK staff work with hundreds of clients in both the private and public sectors on a range of quantitative and qualitative research services. The company focuses its work around five specialisms; Marketing, Advertising, Media, Loyalty and Public Affairs and has links with Ipsos companies around the globe to offer international research.

Ipsos MORI holds BARB’s current television audience measurement contract for surveys and conducts the Establishment Survey on a continuous basis on BARB’s behalf.


TNS is a global market insight and information group. TNS Media Research is a business dedicated to internet, TV and Radio Audience Measurement (iTRAM) in over 30 countries, and operates the InfoSys™ software system for planning and analysing TV audience research.

TNS Media Research has experience of electronic measurement of media audience behaviour, using fixed and portable metering technology and Return Path Data (RPD) from set top boxes

In other industry sectors, TNS provide custom research and analysis, in the areas of Retail and Shopper Insights, Stakeholder Management, New Product Development, and Brand and Communications.

TNS have previously (prior to 2002) held contracts for the operation of the panel and delivery of the BARB service.

Distributed by Brown Lloyd James on behalf of BARB.