MEDIA TRACK - Viewers have time for niche channels, suggests BARB’s first weekly digital figures

After much delay, BARB has produced the first digital TV viewing figures for a seven-day period (for the week ending 7 November).

After much delay, BARB has produced the first digital TV viewing

figures for a seven-day period (for the week ending 7 November).

Available only to BARB subscribers, the figures cover just Sky Digital

homes. Unsurprisingly, given the host of new channels digital offers,

share of viewing for the terrestrial channels was significantly lower

than the UK average.

It is still very early days in terms of both the measurement of digital

audiences and the audience’s relationship with the new platform. While

one week’s viewing figures are unlikely to provide the model for future

viewing patterns, the initial picture that emerges is that ITV, BBC 1

and, perhaps surprisingly, BBC 2, are the three most-watched channels in

Sky Digital homes. This is true for both audience size and the average

minutes viewed.

A look at the amount of time each of the top 20 channels is being

watched illustrates how some stations with only a small reach* can still

clock up a substantial number of minutes viewed. This is the rationale

behind niche channels, where audience figures may initially look small

but those interested parties are likely to tune in frequently and for

some time.

For example, Channel 5 has a higher weekly reach (50 per cent) than Sky

One (47 per cent), but a lower amount of average minutes viewed. This

means that more people flick to Channel 5 than Sky One during the week,

but they are watching for a much shorter time than those who stick with

Sky One.

Most of the channels that appear in the top 20 by audience are familiar

brands - Living, Nickelodeon, Sky’s film channels and UK Gold -

alongside the main terrestrial channels. Only two digital-only channels

make it on to the list - Sky Premier 3 and 4 - illustrating the allure

of movie channels.

*Weekly reach is the percentage of people who tune in to a channel for

three or more minutes across the week.

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