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BARB testing of meter technology

22 April 2005

BARB has confirmed that it is arranging for the encoding of a small number of television stations to coincide with the fieldwork test that RAJAR is undertaking with the Arbitron PPM portable meter device. These will apply to the test panels that are being planned – a fixed panel of 700 respondents (15+ plus children) and the rolling panel of 1400 respondents (15+ plus children).

Bjarne Thelin, Chief Executive of BARB said: “ When BARB extended its research contracts last year, we outlined that we would be continually exploring new methods and technologies. The planned tests fit in with those aims as we will gather more information about PPM’s and maximise our understanding of issues such as rates of public compliance with the audiometers. We are therefore pleased to contribute in some small part to the RAJAR tests.”

RAJAR is to share compliance results on their testing programme with BARB. Reported data for the television testing will be available to BARB for assessment, while RAJAR will analyse the radio data.

Sally De la Bedoyere, Managing Director of RAJAR added: “RAJAR is delighted that BARB has accepted our offer to be involved in the fieldwork tests in this way. Contrary to any speculation, this is not part of a planned strategy to provide a single currency for television and radio broadcast, rather, it is an extremely pragmatic approach to accelerating learning, which can only serve to expand all our knowledge and understanding of the complexities of portable people meters.”

BARB concluded during 2004 that the current shape of the BARB service provides a sensible framework within which to develop the system in coming years, having been designed for the digital age. The framework allows potential to integrate new approaches, if appropriate, during the remaining term of the contracts – which run to the end of 2009.

BARB has embarked on an extensive programme of investigation and examination of the issues that may impact upon the television industry in future years, and will be considering the relevant implications for audience measurement. As part of this BARB is considering a whole range of metering technologies and possible methodologies and whether they may have a place in the future of the BARB service.

BARB is preparing for the reporting of PVR viewing figures, with developments by BSkyB and AGB Nielsen Media Research Group (BARB’s meter suppliers) progressing to enable Sky+ playback to be incorporated into audience figures. It is hoped that these developments to report Sky+ playback will coincide within the next few months.

Testing of other new metering technology, Unitam from AGB Nielsen Media Research Group, has been under way for some months to assess the potential to identify hard-disc playback from other ‘generic’ PVRs/DVR’s. This is about to enter a final phase in the coming months.

BARB anticipates that some other testing with potential suppliers, and of other possible techniques will take place later in the year.