Cable TV study to mirror BARB

The cable TV industry is moving closer towards its own airtime currency with the launch of a major cable TV viewing survey in two weeks’ time.

Diary research involving 1,000 cable TV households will be conducted by research company RSMB to establish a clearer picture of cable viewing habits using methods similar to the established system, BARB.

“There are still many advertisers who are unwilling to consider buying airtime on a channel unless it is measured by BARB,” says RSMB technical director Steve Wilcox. However, the existing BARB panel has only 180 homes with cable TV.

The new study will involve one adult from 1,000 cable homes and one child from each family included in the study. All will be asked to complete a two-week viewing diary. The results are expected in early April.

RSMB is working on behalf of the Cable Research Group which represents cable operators, programming and sales interests eager to establish cable as a more credible advertising medium. It will also try to clarify differences between cable and satellite TV viewing habits.

“The aim is for cable channels to be measured in the same way as BARB,” says Helen Harrison who is acting as consultant to the Cable Research Group. “The first step is the diary survey. By the end of the year we hope to have at least 300 cable homes on the BARB panel – a more reliable sample.”

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s media appraisal group is to assess and approve the findings and research methodology. Its decision is expected soon.

Cable and satellite channels’ share of viewing increased from 34.9 to 39.6 per cent between October 1994 and October 1995, according to the Independent Television Commission’s latest broadband cable home viewing survey published last month. However, the amount of self-reported time spent viewing TV in broadband cable homes overall has decreased slightly – to 25.13 hours per week (25.32 hours in 1994).

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