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UK to start measuring over-the-top viewing

The Broadcasting Audience Research Board (BARB) is tackling the conundrum of measuring TV viewing on PCs, laptops and tablet devices by rolling out a Web TV viewing meter in 100 of its panel homes during the second half of 2011. BARB is the UK’s counterpart to Nielsen in the United States, providing industry-standard audience measurement services for TV broadcasters and advertisers. It is a not-for-profit limited company owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BSkyB and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. It takes a snapshot of viewing data by monitoring detailed content consumption among a panel of TV homes across the UK.

The initial step in deployment of Web monitoring will be to assess the data production process and the impact of metering PC and tablet consumption in 100 of those participating panel homes. BARB then plans to extend use of the new meter to more than 1000 panel homes during 2012, with an estimated 2500 people then participating in this measurement process. This will be done in a staged approach to ensure that the standards and quality of the core service are maintained and that the measurement process is sustainable, according to BARB.

In fact BARB will have competition from Nielsen, which in May 2011 announced its Video Census product to measure consumption of online TV content in both the UK and the United States.

Video Census allows media owners and advertisers to measure the size and demographic composition, particularly age and gender, of audiences viewing video online, both across the whole Web and on specific sites. It also produces other metrics including the total number of videos viewed and the average time people spend doing this.

The new Nielsen tool has already shown that 26.9 million people in the UK viewed streamed video from home and work computers in April 2011. It also showed that YouTube is the most popular site for watching video content, with 19.5 million unique UK viewers in April, followed by the BBC website with 9.1 million, VEVO 5.3 million, and Facebook 4.4 million.