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Future into view – consultation feedback

14 March 2006

BARB has reported the outcomes of its Future into View consultation process and its current work in shaping BARB’s planning priorities for the future of the service.

The key areas of interest were:

  • Viewer control – this is expected to increase substantially, due to more smaller channels; IPTV/broadband; transportable content; interactivity; more compact viewing devices; and greater timeshift viewing from, for example, PVRs
  • Out-of-home viewing – there was clear interest in this, especially in terms of what it may represent once the new mobile viewing opportunities develop
  • In-home viewing – this was regarded as the key priority for BARB to concentrate upon, with many people feeling that the experience of in-home viewing was dramatically different from out-of-home viewing and that it should remain separately quantified
  • Overnight data, time-shift data and programme genre classifications – all these were overwhelmingly affirmed as positive attributes of the BARB service
  • Smaller channels – there was overall support for developing measurement for smaller channels through an alternative, aggregated measure, although further debate is needed
  • Single-source multi-media measurement – there were strong opinions on both sides regarding the incorporation of other broadcast media measurement within a single-source service
  • Central body – there is a strong belief that the role of BARB as a central body responsible for television data across platforms is really important

‘There is widespread agreement that technological change will dramatically impact the future, generating a very different landscape for all, though there is great uncertainty over the speed of any change,’ said Bjarne Thelin, Chief Executive of BARB. ‘We did not expect to come out of this consultation with total clarity about the future shape of television in the UK. We wanted to start a debate about it so that BARB could understand more about the industry’s needs and plan for the future. We would like to thank the industry for their responses.’

‘The current BARB service continues to be developed,’ said Bjarne Thelin. ‘PVR playback data from Sky+ devices is now being reported, and a generic solution to capture other PVR devices and recordable DVDs is undergoing final approval. Trials of a new “barcode” technique to provide more detail on interactive measurements are also currently underway to assess whether this should be included in the BARB service.

‘We have begun occasional snapshot surveys to assess the scale of out-of-home viewing,’ he said. ‘We are also examining the potential of our existing electronic measurement techniques, currently related to fixed sets, as well as continuing to look at the opportunities generated by the newer portable meters for individuals and return path data.

‘We wish to encourage further input from the industry as we develop our plans, and we will continue to share with the industry what the industry has shared with us, ‘he said. ‘BARB’s aim is to serve the industry with the best measurement system possible to fulfil its needs.’

Future into View was launched last June, at a presentation to nearly 200 senior representatives from amongst BARB’s stakeholders. BARB invited the industry to participate in a consultation exercise to shape the BARB service for the increasingly advanced UK television market. Since then, BARB has received on-line responses, individual submissions, and undertaken in-depth interviews and group forums.

Notes for Editors

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 owned by 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 5100 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 subscribers the morning after transmission. Sky+ and VCR 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.

Issued on behalf of BARB by Brown Lloyd James (Moira Whittle or Sheila Thompson on 020 7 591 9610 or or

BARB, 2nd floor, 18 Dering Street, London W1S 1AQ