Mass-audience TV retains more viewers, research claims

TV viewers are more likely to pay close attention to programmes on mass-audience channels than on specialist niche channels and are therefore more likely to stay tuned during ad breaks, according to new research from sales house TSMS.

The study follows on from existing media agency research which shows that there is a direct correlation between attentive viewing of programmes and high advertising recall, and between attentive viewing and ad effectiveness.

It concludes that mass-audience channels, such as ITV and BBC1, hold attention up to 93 per cent more than small rating channels, despite their specialist programming.

The BARB study, designed by TSMS, analysed all the terrestrial channels and ten satellite channels, including UK Gold, Sky One, Sky Movies, Nickleodeon and Discovery. During a four-week period ending last October, every minute of programming was analysed across 14 target audiences.

The top attention holding programme for ABC1 adults was Coronation Street, where 75 per cent of viewers watched three-quarters of the programme or more, followed by Friends, with 71 per cent of viewers and Changing Rooms on BBC2 with 69 per cent.

The research concludes that an attentive audience offers greater value for increasing sales, and that BBC1 and ITV outscore all other channels.

Sue Moseley, TSMS strategic planning director, says: “The message we will be taking to the industry is that TV is not a commodity market. Some ratings are more valuable than others and give greater sales effectiveness.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here