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Sky to Change Way It Reports Viewing, Says Industry is ‘Underselling’ Itself

Sky will change the way it reports viewing figures in Britain, doing away with overnights and focusing on seven-day numbers, which are available two weeks after an episode is transmitted. It will also measure views across full seasons of its dramas and use its own data to capture the binge-viewing numbers not collected by U.K. ratings agency BARB.

“The way the industry reports on TV viewing ultimately means that we’re under-selling ourselves,” Sky’s director of programming Zai Bennett said in a blog post heralding the changes. “We need to be more transparent.”

He added: “So from now on, at Sky we’re going to completely change the way that we measure and report on the performance of our programs.”

The Sky programming boss used the example of Tim Roth revenge drama “Tin Star,” which had an overnight audience of 342,000 for its debut episode. That number reached 1.6 million two weeks later, factoring in catch-up, repeats, and on-demand views – with 323,000 of the two-week total coming via the pay-TV company’s streaming services.

For its big drama launches, which are available as box-sets for Sky subscribers, it will also report a “total consumption” number collated from BARB and Sky’s own data.

Sky acknowledged U.K. ratings agency BARB’s efforts to measure non-linear programming, but said that, with its shows available on demand and via streaming and catch-up, a lot of views are not being reported.

It will use its own figures, as BARB does not capture data for viewing ahead of a linear transmission. When a series is fully available ahead of the weekly installments being broadcast, the numbers can add up. Sky said 500,000 people have already binge-watched the whole of “Tin Star,” despite it being early in its linear TV run.

Bennett called on Sky’s counterparts to adopt the new approach. “Overall, this issue isn’t something that just affects us as a business. It affects the whole industry,” he said. “I’d encourage other broadcasters to also use a more transparent viewing picture, so we all have a more accurate sense of the shows that have really captured the public’s imagination.”

A BARB spokesman declined to comment on Sky’s stance, but said its U.K. broadcaster customers are free to use its data as they wish, and it is now measuring non-linear viewing.

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