BARB, the organisation responsible for television audience measurement in the United Kingdom, says that from September it will also provide reporting on viewing across computers, tablets and smartphones.
The project to provide a single view of viewing across all screens, known as Project Dovetail, has been under way for some time, with a beta phase begun in 2015. Kantar Media provided a prototype for the next phase in the summer of 2016. It was awarded the contract for Dovetail Fusion in February 2017 and was originally due to launch in March 2018.
The data for online viewing comes from joining two sources, hence the name Dovetail.
Software meters installed on tablets and computers in a nationally representative panel of 5,100 homes provide deliver a single source of observations on how people watch on different devices.
Census-level streaming data from viewing apps that have been enabled by their owners to deliver duration-based information provide an audited measure of online viewing.
Current data from web players, Apple and Android apps show that the BBC iPlayer accounts for over half of all live and on-demand viewing across the measured services, with 543 million minutes out of a total of over a billion minutes a week.
Live streaming accounts for approaching 30% of online viewing. Apple devices account for over 45% of viewing, followed by web players with over 35%, and Android with a surprisingly small 15.6%.
A total of a billion minutes a week of online viewing works about at about 18 minutes per person, averaged across the country, although some people will watch a lot more and some may not watch anything online.
In comparison, average television viewing in 2017 was just over 23 hours and 40 minutes per week per individual, which is about 85 billion minutes a week in total across the country.
There is clearly a lot of interest in measuring online usage, but television screens still command the vast majority of viewing.
BARB has been asked whether its data collection and reporting techniques can be applied to other forms of audiovisual media. It commissioned a cross-industry consultation of advertisers, agencies, broadcasters and social media platforms.
Two points emerged clearly from the consultation.
Firstly, the joint industry currency principles that underpin BARB should not be weakened or compromised: independence, objectivity and transparency.
Secondly, the addition of any channels or platforms should not impact on the integrity of BARB’s data collection and reporting methodology.
BARB says the next priority for Project Dovetail, after the launch of people-based cross-platform programme viewing figures, is to deliver an equivalent measure for viewing online commercials. This will enable the industry to assess the total reach and frequency of advertising campaigns across multiple screens.