CNBC drops Barb in switch to GfK's rival TV audience system

CNBC, the European business television broadcaster, is to cancel its subscription to Barb and base its viewing data solely on a system from the Swiss-based researcher Gfk.

The new system, which has been trailed in Switzerland for the past four years, measures viewing figures outside and in the home. It uses a wristwatch that records audio 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and measures a variety of media at the same time.

Kelvin MacKenzie's talkSPORT radio station is also using the Gfk system to measure its audiences following dissatisfaction with the long-standing Rajar system.

A CNBC spokeswoman said: "Barb doesn't fulfil our needs at all; we saw a seven-to-eight times uplift using Gfk because Barb only measures watching in the home."

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Mick Mernagh, the director of consumer insight at MediaCom, welcomed the benefits of the new system. "Barb is still stuck in one medium; it needs to make consumer figures the focus," he said. Mernagh cited an Ofcom report that found viewers were often doing other things while watching television. "We need to know what the consumer is doing. Can't agencies put that data together?" he asked.

Bjame Thelin, the chief executive of Barb, said its long-term ambition was to create a new form of media measurement. However, he stressed the out-of-home shortfall in its panel system was accepted in the media and was taken into account by broadcasters and advertisers.

"Barb does provide measurement in units of around 5,000 people; if 5,000 people are doing it, Barb will pick it up," Thelin said.

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