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Barb was set up in 1981 to provide the industry standard television audience measurement service for broadcasters and the advertising industry. Barb is owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) and is a not for profit company limited by guarantee.

Barb Establishment Survey

The Barb Establishment Survey is carried out on a continuous basis and involves some 53,000 interviews per year. It is a random probability survey which means that every private residential household within the UK has a chance of being selected for interview. The survey ensures that any changes taking place in the population can be identified so that the panel can be updated and adjusted to ensure that it continues to reflect the television-owning population. In addition to being the prime source of television population information, such as the number of multi-channel homes, the BARB Establishment Survey also generates the potential recruits from which panel member homes are selected.

The data is weighted to reflect the full UK population. The weighting involves weighting households and individuals to Government-derived population estimates.

Results from the survey are summarised in reports providing demographic information and data on television ownership. These results are available to Barb subscribers only. For more information, please contact Barb at

Barb Viewing Data:

Barb commissions contractors to provide research services, including the production of audience viewing figures, on its behalf. The audience measurement contracts are held by the following companies – RSMB, Ipsos MORI and Kantar (formerly known as TNS).

Barb is responsible for providing estimates of the number of people watching television. This includes which channels and programmes are being watched, at what time, and the type of people who are watching at any one time. Barb provides television audience data on a minute-by-minute basis for channels received within the UK. The data is available for reporting nationally for terrestrial, satellite and cable reception for both analogue and digital platforms and at ITV and BBC regional level.

Viewing estimates are obtained from a panel of television owning households representing the viewing behaviour of the 26+ million households within the UK. The reporting panel of 5,100 homes is selected to be representative of each ITV and BBC region. The service covers viewing within private households only.

Panel homes are selected via a multi-stage, stratified and un-clustered sample design so that the panel is representative of all television households across the whole of the UK. A range of individual and household characteristics are deployed as panel controls to ensure that the panel remains representative. As estimates for the large majority of panel controls are not available from Census data it is necessary to conduct a bespoke survey (the Establishment Survey) to obtain this information.

When a household agrees to join the panel their television sets, PVRs, VCRs etc. are electronically monitored by a meter. Each TV in a home is connected to its own meter which holds an electronic record for the set. The meter is a small box which is put close to each television set and connected to it. The meter automatically identifies and collects information about the channel that the panel member is viewing.

All panel household residents and their guests register their presence when in a room with a television set on. Each individual does this by pressing a button allocated to them on the peoplemeter handset. The metering system monitors all registrations made by each individual for each television in the home.

The panel member does not need to do anything else for Barb to capture the viewing in their household everyday. Throughout the day the meter system stores viewing undertaken by the entire household. Each night between 2am and 6am the data processing centre automatically downloads the data from panel homes (a process known as ‘polling’). This procedure is carried out on every panel home every day to produce live ‘overnight’ minute-by-minute television viewing data.

VCR, DVDR, PVR playback and “catch-up” VOD services is reported if it takes place within 7 days of the original broadcast. This viewing (known as timeshift) is then added to the live data to produce the final, minute-by-minute consolidated audience, available 8 days after the original transmission date. Consolidated data is the ‘BARB Gold Standard’ that is used by the industry to report and trade on.

Channels reported by Barb provide detailed timings of the programmes and commercials they broadcast. The records that this produces are then matched to the minute-by-minute viewing data to produce the BARB official audience estimates for programmes and commercials.

Specialist research companies are contracted to provide BARB with the service: RSMB (responsible for panel design and quality control); Ipsos MORI (responsible for the Establishment Survey); and Kantar (responsible for recruiting and metering the panel, data collection and processing).

For a more detailed explanation of how the BARB audience measurement process works, please visit the BARB website and go the ‘About Barb’ section.