British Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board To Measure Streaming Television Viewership

The Guardian reports that the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, or BARB, the British television ratings measurement organization will follow the Nielsen ratings and attempt to start measuring how much television is being streamed, rather than watched through traditional set-top devices:

The move will provide the first official measurement of the number of viewers downloading or streaming TV shows on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Justin Sampson, chief executive of Barb, described the move as “pivotal”. “Our initial focus is on reporting the extent to which IP [internet protocol] content is being downloaded or streamed. This is a significant step forward in our ambition to deliver cross-platform measurement of content.”

Barb said it plans to release a “TV player” report by the end of 2013 and has appointed the analytics firm Kantar Media to collect the data from computer devices.

It will be interesting to see how BARB’s method of measuring streaming consumption compares with Nielsen’s plan, which will add 160 streaming-only households to the sample of 23,000 television homes that are the basis for its ratings measurements, as well as going back to its existing household pool to see which of them have televisions that are connected to the internet, but not to cable. Like Nielsen, BARB has devices to monitor viewing in about 5,100 homes, which it says captures data from about 30,000 devices. It’ll be interesting to see if, rather than or in addition to adding streaming-only households to their sample, they start monitoring all the devices of the people in their existing sample, and if so, whether that will affect the participants in the sample who are willing to continue being monitored. And once both Nielsen and BARB have their systems set up, it’ll be interesting and indicative to see if one suggests higher streaming rates than another, both in terms of figuring out whether there are cultural differences in television viewership, and in terms of whether or not each country decides it wants to tweak its measurement methods or households pool.