Coronavirus likely to impact quality of BARB audience data

UK audience ratings organisation BARB has admitted that its ability to accurately measure what people are watching could be impacted by the government’s new restrictions on movement and work.

BARB CEO Justin Sampson said that the organisation had been forced to cease allface-to-face interviewing and technician visits to panel homes early last week and that its Establishment Survey and panel recruitment interviews had also ceased.

The said that the suspension of technician visits meant that BARB could not conduct routine maintenance of metering equipment in panel homesor add new homes to the panel, something that is normally done on an ongoing basis to maintain the size and balance of the panel.

The audience measurement outfit also cannot maintain the pace of deployment of WiFi router meters to track streaming consumption. This is an initiative that was launched a year ago when BARB commissioned Kantar to install its Focal Meters in BARB panel homes, attached to the broadband router to track streaming activity.

Sampson said that as a result of the restrictions, the BARB reporting panel would decline gradually until technicians can start to visit panel homes once again.

As a result, he said, data could “become slightly variable over time” although the outfit’s research agencies were working on ways to maintain the reporting sample at as high a level as possible.

Collection of census-level data for viewing streaming VOD services on non-TV devices is not affected.

BARB said that total live viewing to BARB-reported channels last week was 17% higher than the equivalent week last year.

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