Carat questions BARB figures

ITV could be missing out on up to £39.5m a year in advertising revenue on Coronation Street’s Friday centre break, according to research commissioned by Carat.

The findings throw into question viewing figures produced by the new BARB panel, which show that last Friday’s episode of the soap reached 11.2 million adults, while the equivalent episode last year – according to figures from the old panel – reached 12.3 million adults.

Carat – which handles Cadbury, the soap’s sponsor – suggests that in fact 14.5 million adults watched last Friday’s episode, 3.3 million more than the figure reported by BARB, and closer to the old panel’s figure.

Carat claims that the discrepancy between BARB’s and its own research means that ITV could be losing as much as £150,000 of revenue for the four-minute centre break in each episode which, extrapolated across the year, works out at £39.5m.

Carat broadcast director David Peters says: “These 3.3 million potential lost adult viewers represent added value for our clients, but also demonstrate how far off-beam the market could be in terms of viewing figures.”

Media agencies are concerned about the drop in apparent viewing levels under the new BARB contract, which came into operation on January 1 (MW January 17) and the lack of a “trading currency” due to delays in producing consolidated data.

Carat interviewed 1,400 people by phone over the weekend to find out who had actually been watching the episode. The group was then used as a representative sample of the population.

Carat intends to repeat the research in March, when the new BARB panel is up to its full strength.

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