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Sky to revise audience measurement

Current system means broadcasters and pay-TV companies are 'underselling themselves'

Sky has announced it will “completely change” the way it measures and reports the performance of its programmes.

The pay-TV giant’s new focus will be a seven-day cumulative audience, which is available from the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board (BARB) around two weeks after an episode first airs. In that time, Sky will measure all linear broadcasts, including repeats, as well as catch-up and on-demand viewing through a TV set.

“The way people are watching TV is changing dramatically,” said Sky Atlantic director Zai Bennett.

“While traditional ‘linear’ viewing is still important, more TV shows than ever before are being watched on demand, or through devices other than a TV set. Whether that’s catching up with Game of Thrones on the way to work, or tucking up in bed with a tablet.

“But at the moment, many of these views aren’t being reported. The way that the industry talks about TV viewing isn’t reflective of the ways that people are watching today.”

Bennett reported that, when a new TV series is released as a boxset on demand, a whopping 60 per cent of the audience can potentially be missed in official figures.

He said: “The reality is, if someone recommends a show to you, whether that’s Tin Star on Sky Atlantic or The Handmaid’s Tale on Channel 4, you might not come into it until several weeks after it’s gone on air.

“The way the industry reports on TV viewing ultimately means that we’re under-selling ourselves. We need to be more transparent.”