News

BARB extends contract tender process by one year

23 July 2020

BARB has today announced a year-long extension of its contract tender process for two of its main research contracts: audience measurement panel and data publication, and survey design and methodology.

The new contracts will now begin in 2024 and run for an initial period of six years. BARB will also invite tenders for a panel set-up recruitment contract, which will be specified in line with the winning bid for the audience measurement panel and data publication contract.

BARB’s decision to extend its contract tender process has been taken in light of the current public-health crisis, which has raised questions about the ongoing effectiveness of face-to-face data collection techniques. Extending the tender process will help BARB to understand which outcomes of the crisis will have a long-lasting effect on research agencies’ ability to meet its contractual requirements.

Extending the process will also enable BARB to conduct a number of investigations into alternative remote methods of data collection:

  • Online Establishment Survey – BARB has commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a pilot project of an online, self-completion version of the Establishment Survey. The Establishment Survey is currently conducted via face-to-face interviews in participants’ homes.
  • Remote recruitment of panel homes – BARB has also commissioned Ipsos MORI to test the recruitment of new panel homes using a combination of online and telephone techniques. Panel homes are currently recruited through face-to-face interviews.
  • Metering installation – BARB has started exploring TV set meters that panellists can install themselves, rather than requiring trained technicians to do so.
  • Return-path data – BARB has commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a pilot project investigating how return-path data from Sky homes could be integrated with BARB panel viewing data, to reduce data variability for smaller channels.

Justin Sampson, BARB’s Chief Executive, said:

“Our decision to award long-term contracts for reporting television viewing is still underpinned by the objective to have the versatility to track the technologies used by media companies to reach viewers throughout the coming decade. Equally, the public-health crisis has raised many practical questions and it’s right we pause to assess the implications for how we specify and commission the research services needed to achieve our objectives. As we do this, we continue to be guided by the principle of delivering audience measurement that is independent, objective and transparent.”

In the past ten years, BARB has developed its service to meet industry needs, devising methods to report new ways of viewing television, including the use of broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) services on tablets, PCs and smartphones; pre-broadcast, non-linear and catch-up viewing up to 28 days after broadcast on TV sets and dynamically-served advertising.

The contract tender process comes as BARB looks to keep pace with continuing changes in how people watch television. These include the further development of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services; considering the impact of 5G mobile networks; monitoring existing technologies such as smart watches, augmented reality apps and virtual reality headsets and being aware of technologies that are yet to be developed.

BARB continues to develop its service prior to the new contracts starting in 2024. Its current priorities include delivering BVOD campaign performance and the successful deployment of router meters across the BARB panel. Router meters will enable BARB to delineate post-broadcast viewing on TV sets between BVOD services and PVR playback; measure panel members’ viewing on smartphones and provide more insight into the growth of unidentified viewing on TV sets, including facilitating the reporting of aggregate-level viewing of SVOD services.

The current providers of the two research contracts up for tender are Kantar (audience measurement panel and data publication) and RSMB (survey design and methodology).

Notes to editors

About BARB
BARB is responsible for delivering the UK’s television audience measurement currency. We commission research companies to collect data that represent the viewing behaviour of the UK’s 28 million television and broadband-only households.

Each year, the UK television and advertising industry invests £7.5 billion in the production and distribution of television programmes and commercials. BARB’s television audience currency is used by broadcasters, advertisers and agencies to evaluate the success of this investment. We enable this assessment by reporting, on a daily basis, how people watch television programmes and commercials.

BARB’s research focuses on five questions: Who is watching? What are they watching? When are they watching? Which screen are they watching on? How did the content get to the screen?

BARB contracts
BARB’s television audience measurement service is based on seven separate contracts. These, alongside the current research providers, are listed below.

  • Audience measurement panel and data publication (Kantar)
  • Survey design and methodology (RSMB)
  • Establishment survey and panel recruitment (Ipsos MORI)
  • A census-level count of online TV viewing (Kantar)
  • Dovetail Fusion (Kantar)
  • A content identification system (MetaBroadcast)
  • Auditing the broadcasters’ application of tagging software (ABC)