UK ratings body BARB has revealed a “once in a generation” upgrade that can show how many people are watching the biggest shows on SVoD platforms.
A preview unveiled this morning showed that the seventh episode of Netflix’s Squid Game was watched by 5.8M people last month, ranking the South Korean mega hit 10th in the UK behind the likes of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing (10.4M), Channel 4’s Great British Bake Off (8.9M) and ITV drama The Larkins (6.6M), which made up the top three most-watched episodes.
Other SVoD films and TV shows to feature in the preview included Netflix film Guilty (3.1M), the first episode of the third series of Netflix’s You (2.7M) and Disney+ film Black Widow (2.3M).
The update means BARB can measure viewing to all the big streaming platforms alongside YouTube, TikTok and Twitch, regardless of whether these platforms are signed up to the service, using a programme measurement system developed by Kantar.
BARB subscribers will be able to see the updates daily alongside the performance of the biggest shows from the traditional broadcasters, which has been a cornerstone of UK TV for decades.
The body can also now break down the total amount of time spent viewing broadcaster shows versus SVoD, with 156 minutes spent with the former and 35 minutes with the latter in October, it said.
The previous definition of “total television viewing” has been updated and is now “total identified viewing”, including “total SVoD/AVoD viewing” alongside “total video-sharing viewing.”
“Understanding people is at the heart of BARB’s remit and it’s been clear for some time that streaming services have started to attract viewers who have traditionally relied solely on linear channels for their viewing entertainment,” said BARB CEO Justin Sampson. “For the first time there is audience measurement for these services that bears all the hallmarks of a joint-industry currency: independence, objectivity and transparency.”
The streaming services have long resisted issuing detailed measuring data to both producers and the general public.
Netflix Co-CEO Reed Hastings said more than two years ago that he wanted the SVoD to be measured by BARB but little progress has been made, and Barb’s news today shows that it has been able to sidestep the platform.
Netflix has this month instead started issuing top 10 lists of most-watched TV shows and films in each territory but the move has been criticized as it only recognises shows performing well and is difficult to quantify or validate.
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