BARB’s figures provide initial snapshot of digital universe

BARB has released its first set of audience ratings for digital-only homes. But, while advertisers and TV sales houses have been crying out for the figures, observers are sceptical about the research.

BARB has released its first set of audience ratings for

digital-only homes. But, while advertisers and TV sales houses have been

crying out for the figures, observers are sceptical about the

research.



The figures are drawn from 148 BSkyB homes over one week ending 7

November, and the data, available to BARB subscribers only, hit desks

last week.



The results were taken from a BSkyB probe that can identify which

channel the viewer is watching. Overall figures for that week pointed to

a growth in viewing in digital homes over and above cable, satellite and

analogue homes.



Although Channel 5’s share dropped significantly from 6.1 per cent in

all homes to 2.7 per cent in Sky Digital homes, the station remains

untroubled.



David Harrison, business development sales manager at Channel 5, said:

’This is fantastically early data made up of early adopters from only

148 Sky Digital homes. Although it is interesting and useful, you can’t

take the figures at face value yet, as the research methods need to be

more robust. Anyone who pays too much attention to one week’s figures

will end up with an inaccurate picture that will look totally different

next week.’



Channel 4’s audience share figures also dropped significantly, from a

total audience viewing share of 10.6 per cent, to 5.9 per cent in Sky

Digital homes. But media agency sources said it was no revelation that

within digital homes, digital is viewed over and above analogue.



ITV’s audience share was 26.8 per cent in Sky Digital homes, dropping

from 31.9 per cent in all homes. But BBC 2’s viewing figures were up

from 6.5 per cent in multichannel homes to 7.2 per cent in Sky digital

homes.



BBC 1’s viewing dropped from 26.8 per cent in all homes to 18.2 per cent

in those with Sky Digital.



Tony Wearn, research director at BARB, said: ’It’s reliable data for

those 148 homes and a good enough estimate of the Sky Digital universe,

but the picture is not an overview of the multichannel environment.’



BARB confirmed that it was in talks with ONdigital and forecasts to be

in ONdigital homes between April and June 2000. It also expects to add

another five to ten homes per week to build its digital-only audience

ratings.



But media agency sources said it was too early to trust the new digital

measurement figures until they were wider reaching and monthly reports

became available.