NEWS21 September 2009

Barb sets sights on measuring online TV viewing

Technology UK

UK— The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (Barb) wants to start measuring TV content watched on PCs and laptops – providing it can find a satisfactory way of doing so.

Bjarne Thelin (pictured), Barb chief executive, told Research that the first step of the association’s plan to go beyond measurement of broadcast, cable and satellite viewing is to look at the number of people who are streaming TV content from their computers to their TV sets, and those who have set-top boxes with video-on-demand capability.

He said: “We want to set up a pilot, non-linear database that will collate extra bits of viewing that are not part of our current database so we can look and understand what it is possible to collect, what volume of activity that represents and then try and find a logical way of being able to report that. That’s a key development priority for us.”

However, the larger goal is to measure TV content viewed straight from the computer screen, but Thelin conceded that Barb has not had much luck yet in its search for a system that can do that. He said: “We haven’t found the techniques that would deliver to the industry what they would want from Barb so we’re still very much seeking to find a way of resolving that measurement.”

Barb said it is “aware of, has evaluated or is still considering” several measurement techniques – including those that identify traffic coming into modems, software meters that track PC activity, meters applied to soundcards and server data – however, it is not ready to commit to any of the services it has seen so far.

Thelin said: “We’re in dialogue with a number of different organisations about the techniques that they have available, have tested some and given comments on where we feel more development is required.”

When a suitable system is found, Thelin said that Barb would roll out the technology in a test panel. He said: “There has been lots of progress and lots of activity, but it’s not possible to say this will happen in three or six months.”

In the US, Nielsen has developed a meter that tracks online TV viewing which it plans to roll out across all its people meter-equipped TV measurement households by 2011. The technology is currently installed in 375 National People Meter homes and is also in use in the firm’s 230,000-strong online panel.