News & Views

Barb awards long-term research contracts

8 June 2021




Barb has awarded long-term research contracts that are fundamental to the delivery of the UK’s television audience measurement reporting system. The new research contracts, which start in January 2024, ensure Barb’s continued ability to support the UK television and advertising industry until the end of 2029.

Barb audience ratings provide critical input into the commissioning, scheduling and distribution of television programmes, while the advertising industry relies on our data to support the process of planning and buying advertising campaigns on broadcast channels and broadcaster VOD (BVOD) services. Our audience data also inform the regulatory conversation about how media services operate in the public interest.

Today’s announcement reinforces Barb’s commitment to providing a gold-standard service that delivers a comprehensive measure of what people watch through a wide range of technology platforms. In recent years, Barb has delivered the following innovations:

  • Pre-broadcast, live and post-broadcast viewing on BVOD services.
  • Viewing of archive content on BVOD services.
  • Viewing on tablets, PCs and smartphones.
  • Time-shifted viewing up to four weeks after broadcast.
  • Exposure to dynamically-inserted advertising.
  • Total campaign performance through the BVOD Planner.
  • Incorporation of IPA TouchPoints audience classifications.

Barb will enhance our services further during 2021 with the launch of audience figures for SVOD services and video-sharing platforms. We will report content ratings and aggregate-level viewing for streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

Building on this record of innovation, Barb has appointed Kantar to install new metering technology into our representative panel of UK homes, which will increase from 5,150 homes to 7,000 homes. This is the largest-ever increase in reporting sample since Barb’s launch in 1981.

Kantar’s new meter — which takes the form of a tablet device — features an innovative avatar-based registration system. This original technology will engage and motivate panel members to participate in our ongoing research.

Kantar will install this new TV-set metering technology alongside meters that are attached to WiFi routers in panel homes. The router meters — which are already deployed in Barb panel homes — are instrumental in identifying how people watch streaming services.

In addition, Barb has re-appointed Kantar to maintain the collection of a census-level count of viewing to BVOD services.  We have also re-commissioned ABC to independently audit the implementation of tagging software that generates this big-data set. The strength of big data — providing certainty on the volumes of viewing to BVOD services — complements our panel data which report how different types of people watch these streaming services. These two data sources are integrated on a daily basis using a technique called Dovetail Fusion.

Barb has also appointed RSMB to deliver services that ensure our audience measurement is forged with the highest-quality survey design and methodology. Building on its established relationship with Barb, RSMB will invest in new skill sets, machine learning and analytic tools to refresh and enhance its ongoing audit of panel-management processes and monitoring of reported viewing levels.

Justin Sampson, Chief Executive of Barb, said:

“These decisions underscore the long-term commitment of the UK television and advertising industry to independent, objective and transparent audience measurement. Staying true to the objective of the tender process, Barb has chosen imaginative and engaging solutions that have the versatility to track the full range of linear and on-demand services viewers can choose from.

“We are also delighted to commit to a step-change in the size of our representative panel of UK homes as a result of operational improvements put forward by Kantar and RSMB during a rigorous tender process. Their experience of working with all of our industry stakeholders will ensure service enhancements are delivered while we maintain our reliable and robust daily reporting of television audiences.”

At the same time as awarding new contracts, Barb has extended Ipsos-MORI’s contract for conducting our Establishment Survey. This contract — which also includes recruiting homes to our representative panel of UK homes — now runs for a further two years until the end of 2023.

Barb’s services are supported by two other contracts; Dovetail Fusion data integration (conducted by Kantar) and provision of a content identification system (MetaBroadcast).

Editor’s notes

Founded by the major players in the UK television and advertising industry, Barb is responsible for delivering the UK’s television audience ratings. Since our formation in 1981, broadcasters, agencies and advertisers have collaborated in the governance of Barb as we fulfil three important purposes:

  • Our viewing figures support decisions that are made in the making and distribution of television programmes.
  • Our data inform the ongoing conversation about how broadcasters operate in the public interest and in accordance with prevailing legislation.
  • Advertisers, agencies and broadcasters use our data to support the planning and buying of advertising campaigns, and to assess the brand and sales outcomes of these campaigns.

Barb’s research focuses on the following questions: Who is watching and who are they watching with? What are they watching? When are they watching? Which screen are they watching on? How did the content get to the screen?

  • We deliver a 360° Audience View across linear channels and broadcaster VOD services, and have emerging capabilities for reporting SVOD and video-sharing platforms.
  • Our Advanced Campaign Hub allows buyers and sellers of advertising to assess and optimise the total, unduplicated audience for campaigns on linear and on-demand services.
  • Our audience measurement service is underpinned by Big Data Integration. Audience data collected from a representative panel of UK homes is integrated each day with a census-level count of viewing to BVOD services. This technique is called Dovetail Fusion.

Barb’s Establishment Survey involves face-to-face interviews with over 1,000 households each week. The results determine the types of home we need to have on our panel and provide the information needed to accurately weight our viewing data. The Establishment Survey also helps us to find homes that are willing to be members of the panel.