Which ratings do Digital Spy use?
The ratings represented on DS are provided by Attentional, who use the official ratings data supplied by BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) - the organisation responsible for providing the official measurement of UK television audiences.
Attentional, however, 'tape checks' what is aired during a day and compares broadcast times with those in the official schedules.
Why is 'tape checking' a good thing?
'Tape checking' ensures that actual start and end times of a programme can officially be identified, rather than relying on schedules which are drawn up weeks prior to transmission.
'Tape checking' also ensures that schedules changes are factored into a day's ratings. For example, if breaking news or sporting events delay the start of a scheduled programme, actual ratings can be achieved, rather than relying on scheduled timings.
Why is 'tape checking' important?
It ensures that the most accurate ratings are provided. An extremely good working example of 'tape checking' in practice arose two years ago with The X Factor final. Our ratings provider was able to identify an average of million more viewers than other ratings providers.
Which channels are 'tape-checked'?
All five UK terrestrial channels - BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five.
How long does a 'tape check' take?
Attentional completed the 'tape checking' process by 9.30am each morning before any overnight ratings are issued, to ensure the most accurate figures are provided.
Does tape-checking take place over Bank Holidays?
No. Due to time constraints, tape-checking cannot be completed during public holidays. The 'unchecked' period would therefore work to official schedules, as opposed to tape-checked times.
To what level of accuracy are channels 'tape-checked' to? The nearest minute? The nearest five minutes
Between 6am and 5pm, channels are 'tape checked' to the nearest 5 minutes.
Between 5pm and 1am, channels are 'tape checked' to the nearest 1 minute.
So are the figures accurate to the minute?
No. It is important to remember that all overnight data remains at a five-minute resolution - that is, audience data for the previous night's television is supplied by BARB as a series of five-minute rating blocks (e.g. 08:30-08:35).
Even though programme start and end times are to the nearest minute, the audience data remains at a 5-minute resolution.
How do you decide which 5-minute windows to add to a programme's audience average? Do you round up or down?
When rounding to the nearest 5 minutes, Attentional rounds up if the end minute is 2:30 or greater. They round down if the end minute is 2:29 or less within a 5-minutes block.
When rounding to the nearest minute, Attentional round up if the end second is :30 or greater. They round down if it is :29 or less.
What is classed as the 'start' and 'end' of a programme? Are the adverts or sponsors bumpers included?
The start of a programme is the actual start of the programme - that is after all ad breaks and programme sponsor ads.
The end of a programme is dealt with in the same way. No adverts at the beginning or end of a programme are included.
What does this mean in practice?
If a programme starts at 08:32, will the first 5-minute 'block' of audience data be 08:30-08:35 or 08:35-08:40?
Attentional would use the 5-minute data from 08:30-08:35 as its first 'block' of audience data.
If a programme ends at 08:27, will the last 5-minute 'block' of audience data be 08:20-08:25 or 08:25-08:30?
Using the rounding explained above, a programme ending at 08:27 would use the 08:20-08:25 as its last 'block' of audience data.
Last updated Wednesday, April 7, 2010