Frequently Asked Questions


The most commonly asked questions are on the right. Clicking on the relevant query will take you to the corresponding answer below.



What is Transmission Checking?

The transmission checking process involves the recording of television channels (currently BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5) and comparison of actual transmissions with the schedules we receive from our schedule suppliers. If there are differences, the schedules are updated where necessary. Differences include late schedule changes, programme titles and start and end times (and therefore duration). This transmission check is completed by 09:30 each morning before any reports are produced, to ensure accuracy of all reports (including overnight reports).

Schedules are checked against the London region schedule. We don't transmission check on Bank Holidays and over periods like Easter and Christmas. Schedules for these unchecked periods would therefore show standard published programmes and their start and end times. However, if there are changes over these periods that are brought to our attention, we will transmission check and reissue any reports affected.

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What are channels transmission-checked to? Nearest minute? Nearest five minutes?

Between 06:00 – 17:00 they are tape checked to the nearest 5 minutes. Within this, if requested by clients, there is the opportunity of checking to the minute, as some programmes can regularly be very different to the scheduled times.

Between 17:00 – 26:00 all programmes are tape checked to the nearest minute.

It is important to note, however, that the ‘overnights’ data remains at a 5-minute resolution. Audience data for the previous nights viewing is supplied as a series of ratings for each 5-minute period of the day (e.g. 08:30-08:35). Therefore, although in several cases, programme start-time and end-times are to the nearest minute, the data their audiences are based on remain at a 5-minute resolution. How we select the 5-minute periods to be attached to a specific programme is detailed below.

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As data is for 5-minute periods, do we round up or down after we have identified the actual start time? So, for example, if we find a programme starts at 8:32, do we say its first ‘block’ of audience data is 8:30-8:35, or 8:35-8:40?

When rounding to the nearest 5 minutes we round up if the end minute is 2:30 or greater and we round down if it is 2:29 or less, within each 5 minutes block.

When rounding to the nearest minute, we round up if the end second is :30 or greater and we round down if it is :29 or less.

So as per the explanation and examples above, a programme starting at 08:32 would use five minute data from 08:30-08:35 as its first ‘block’ of audience data.

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What is the actual end of a programme? Is it the end of the programme itself, or after the ad break at the end of the programme?

The start of a programme is the actual start of the programme – that’s after all ad-breaks and ad/programme sponsors.

The end of the programme is dealt with in the same way. So we don’t include any ads at the beginning or end of a programme.

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If a programme ends at, say, 8:27 do we treat its last audience ‘block’ as 8:20-8:25, or 8:25-8:30?

Using the rounding explained above, a programme ending at 08:27 would use the 08:20 – 08:25 as its last audience.

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Why are our figures more accurate?

As far as we are aware, nobody else in the industry does this transmission check. This is not only a way of establishing the actual start and end times of programmes on the 5 channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5) that we check, but it also allows us to pick up on schedule changes, breaking news and sporting events overrunning and swapping between channels etc (BBC1 and BBC2 are good examples of channel swapping when sporting events overrun). Our schedule suppliers do pick up on some changes, but not all of them.

A good example of the importance of accuracy is the X Factor final two years ago, when we were able to identify a million more views to the show than anyone else – and we were right! There are many more examples of this.

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What are BARB reported channels?

These are the television channels that have their audiences measured by BARB. 

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Where can I find a list of BARB reported channels?

A full list can be found here.

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Are internet downloads counted (i.e. iPlayer) in the BARB figues?

Internet viewing is not counted however viewing of the main platforms (iPlayer, All 4 etc) when viewed on a television set, rather than tablet, phone or computer, are included.

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What are overnight reports?

Overnight reports are the industry's standard tool for monitoring the performance of television programming. Available at 9.30am the morning following transmission, for each programme they detail the average audience in millions/thousands, as well as the share and TVR. There are also a number of customisable options such as programme highlighting of your shows or slot winners along with 5min totals and week-on-week comparisons.

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