Barb could report online television viewing data on a weekly basis after it launches its VoD ratings service later this year.

The audience measurement body is testing the technology ahead of a December launch, when it will publish its first report providing a detailed overview of how people in the UK are engaging with content online.

Barb chief executive Justin Sampson said it would initially aim to publish “TV player” reports once a month, but added that it should also be possible to make the data available on a weekly basis.

In much the same way that the BBC publishes iPlayer figures, the Barb reports will look at online viewing across the UK’s major broadcasters and reveal the most popular shows over a given period.

Figures will be presented as the “average browser audience” and will be drawn from metadata tags that have been coded into VoD players including iPlayer, 4oD, Demand 5, ITV Player and Sky Go.

The tags send a message to Barb’s data collection agency Kantar Media, which details what content has been requested and the length of time it was viewed for.

The data will also reveal which platform the content has been accessed from, be it mobile, tablet, computer or IPTV.

Auditing process

The Barb project team is currently integrating the metadata technology into the broadcasters’ VoD platforms and testing has begun. The body is also planning to build in an auditing process to ensure there is no foul play.

 “The view of all of the broadcasters is there isn’t a single source of data that allows us to measure viewing in this way, ” Sampson told Broadcast.

Once the TV player reports have launched in December, Barb still has to tackle two significant challenges: establishing who is watching the content and integrating the data with its existing television ratings service.

It has begun to fit “web TV meters” in new homes that it adds to its audience research panel, enabling it to capture viewing on desktops and laptops. It is also working with Kantar to introduce a similar tool for tablet devices.

The “observed data” will eventually be combined with the TV player reports to provide an insight into the demographics watching content online. The ratings body has also launched a tender process to find a research agency capable of inte grating online data with existing overnight or consolidated figures.

 “IP is going to become an important part of TV distribution. Broadcasters and viewers are using it more, and many people with connected TVs won’t realise they’re accessing content through their broadband,” Sampson said.

VoD figures in 2012

The Olympics helped make last year a record breaker, with 2.32 billion requests for TV and radio shows. Requests from mobiles and tablets grew 177%.

ITV Player
Long-form video requests jumped 22% to 458 million, with new distribution platforms including Playstation and Xbox.

Full length video views rose 5% to 450m last year, with younger audiences requesting shows such as Made in Chelsea.

Sky Go
Usage increased throughout 2012, peaking at 2.7 million unique users in the final three months of the year.