BARB: A message from the Chief Executive

25 March 2020


We need to acknowledge the great uncertainty and concern across UK society at the moment. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by coronavirus, and all those in the NHS and the care sector who are working so hard to deal with the implications.

Despite the uncertainty, BARB continues to produce television viewing figures each day. And as you would probably expect, our audience ratings show significant growth in use of the TV set as people spend more time at home. The total level of live viewing to BARB-reported channels last week was 17% higher than the equivalent week last year. We expect this number to be higher once we consolidate timeshift viewing.

BARB is working closely, but virtually, with our research agencies to understand how the latest government restrictions affect our ability to maintain our service. One immediate impact is that all face-to-face interviewing and technician visits to panel homes were suspended early last week. Establishment Survey and panel recruitment interviews have also ceased.

The suspension of technician visits means we can’t:
– conduct routine maintenance of metering equipment in panel homes;
– add new homes to the panel – this is normally a continuous task to ensure we optimise the size and balance of our panel; and
– maintain the momentum of deploying WiFi router meters.

As a result, the BARB reporting panel is likely to decline gradually until technicians can start to visit panel homes once again. Nevertheless, we expect daily audience data delivery to continue as normal, with little impact for users. That said, data may become slightly more variable over time. Our research agencies are working on initiatives to maintain the reporting sample at as high a level as possible so we can mitigate the risk of data variability.

Our collection of census-level data for viewing BVOD services on non-TV devices is unaffected.

The BARB team is working remotely; please contact us via email if you have any queries.

Best wishes to you and yours for staying well,

Justin Sampson
Chief Executive, BARB