Barb, funded by the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), ITV and Sky, has unveiled a measurement technique that captures panellists' viewing on iPad and Android tablets.
The measurement solution has been developed by Kantar Media in consultation with BARB and claims to be the first industry solution for the electronic monitoring of people's behaviour as they consume media on their tablet devices.
The initial objective is to use this technique in Barb panel homes that already have a software meter installed for tracking viewing on desktop and laptop computers.
Barb anticipates that around half of these homes have tablet devices that require monitoring. The rollout will be controlled carefully to maintain the size and balance of the overall panel.
The first viewing session that Barb captured took place in mid-August when a panellist watched an episode of 'Guy Martin's Passion for Life' on the 4oD app on an iPad. Representative data will be published as it becomes available in the coming months.
Barb provides gold standard verified viewing for hundreds of channels, thousands of programmes and ads, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. Current industry-accepted estimates are that up to 2% of all television viewing time is spent watching online TV on computer devices.
As viewing to online TV grows, this development marks an important step towards Barb maintaining a comprehensive measurement of all television viewing.
Justin Sampson, chief executive of Barb, said: "The ability to track how our panel members watch television on their tablets is a great step forward and another staging post for the delivery of Project Dovetail.
"It is also the catalyst for us to build a new panel of homes that have broadband connections, but no TV sets. Additionally, we now plan to accelerate deployment in our panel of the software meters that track viewing on laptop, desktop and tablet computers."
Among those welcoming the move, Jonathan Allan, sales director of Channel 4, said: "This is fantastic news because of the extremely rapid rate at which tablets have become part of our daily lives. UK broadcasters have developed compelling apps for our viewers to watch their favourite live and on-demand programmes.
"We're delighted that BARB and Kantar have overcome research and technical challenges to deliver this solution and look forward to using the insights they generate."