TV Glossary

Bamboozled by all the television terms, we hope our TV Glossary will help demystify.

ARPU – Average Revenue Per User subscribing to pay-TV services – includes transactional revenue such as gambling and video gaming.

Audience – Population or target group viewing a television programme or an advertising campaign.

Average audience – Calculated by adding together the audience for each minute of a programme and dividing it by the programme’s total duration.

Average frequency – Estimate of the average number of times the audience had an opportunity to see a commercial

BARB – Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board: This organisation compiles audience measurement and TV ratings in the UK. It is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and the Institute of Practitioners in advertising. Data is collected by participating viewers, who have a box on top of their TV set which tracks the programmes they watch. There are 5,100 homes in the UK with one of these boxes, tracking the viewing habits of 12,000 individuals. This means that each viewer with a BARB reporting box represents over 5.000 people. Participants use a handset to indicate who is watching any time they have shows on. Data is collected overnight and published the following morning for use by TV stations and the advertising industry.

BARB figures are incredibly important to commercial TV stations and their advertisers because both of these depend on knowing how many people watch any given show.

Bumpers – Short (usually 5-second) branded sponsorship credits appearing either side of a commercial break during a sponsored programme.

Campaign period – The interval from first to last day of an advertising campaign.

Clearcast – All finished advertisements appearing on member stations must be cleared by Clearcast before transmission.

Commercial break – A break in television programme transmission, during which advertisements are shown.

Commercial minutage – The number of minutes (per day, per week, etc.) on television, during which commercials are transmitted.

Commercial share – The share of viewing taken by a commercial broadcaster, where total share excluding all BBC channels equals 100.

Consolidated viewing – The total of real time (at transmission time) and video playback viewing (occurring within an agreed period, e.g. seven days of the first transmission time).

Cost per thousand – The cost of reaching 1000 viewers within a target audience with your advertisement. The CPT is also sometimes known as ‘average station price.’

Coverage – The proportion of a target group who have an opportunity to see one or more commercial transmissions.

CRR – Contract Rights Renewal—the CRR mechanism sets out the rights, under Ofcom guidelines, held by advertisers when buying ITV commercial airtime.

DAL – Dedicated Advertiser Location. Accessed via the red button, it allows viewers to enter an advertiser environment outside the broadcast stream.

Daypart – The broadcast day is split into several dayparts, e.g. 06:00–09:30 = breakfast, 09:30–17:30 = daytime, 17:30–20:00 = early peak etc.

DCAB – Digital Cable—the distribution platform utilised by the cable operators, generally combining television with telephony.

DCMS – Department for Culture, Media and Sport—the Government department with responsibility for overseeing broadcasting.

Demographics – Basic descriptors used to classify respondents – such as age, sex, marital status, occupation, social grade, etc.

Digital/digitisation – Analogue data converted to binary code (1s and 0s) may be said to have been digitised.

DSAT – Digital Satellite—the means of broadcast distribution typically associated with BSkyB.

DTT – Digital Terrestrial Television – the distribution method most commonly referred to as the ‘Freeview’ platform.

DTR – Digital Television Recorder – a device which uses a hard-drive to record and store digital video content. Well-known brands include Freeview Playback, Tivo, and Sky+.

Enhanced TV – TV programming supplemented with extra datacast material, to enhance its viewer appeal, generally accessed through the red button.

EPG – Electronic Programme Guide – an on-screen guide to channel programme listings and other services carried by a platform operator.

Establishment survey – BARB conduct an annual establishment survey, which is then used in panel design, to ensure the panel is reflective of the total UK viewing population.

FIB – First In Break – the first commercial to appear in a commercial break.

Free-to-air – TV channels broadcast by various means but offered free to end-users, who do not have to pay any subscription to receive them.

Frequency – The number of times the target audience of a TV campaign has the opportunity to see the campaign, expressed over a period of time.

Guest viewing – Guest viewing information is collected by BARB, through specific buttons on the panel-member handset, together with limited demographic data.

HDTV – High Definition TV—signals transmitted with at least double the horizontal and vertical resolution of conventional broadcast material.

Hours of viewing – The average number of minutes or hours viewed per day or week to a channel by an audience.

Household – A group of people who live together and manage their bills and expenses as one unit.

Housewife – The member of the household (male or female), who is solely or mainly responsible for household duties, including shopping.

IA – Interactive advertising – commercials broadcast on digital TV with an overlay prompting the viewer to ‘press red’ for additional information, sample, etc.

iDTV – Integrated Digital TV—sets with inbuilt converters that can receive and display digital channels without the need for a set-top box.

Impacts – One impact is equivalent to one person viewing one 30-second spot on one occasion.

Impressions – Another term for impacts.

In-home viewing – TV viewing which takes place in the home (excludes out of home viewing).

Infomercial – An extended commercial message, generally lasting between three and 30 minutes and including product demonstration.

Interactive TV (iTV) – Broadcast television combined with interactive enhancements and extensions, allowing viewers to control content and interact with the broadcaster.

Internet TV – Content being transmitted over the public internet. Can include short-form programmings such as YouTube and on-demand content viewed over broadband such as 4OD and Joost.

IPA – Institute of Practitioners in Advertising – the trade body for leading agencies in the UK’s advertising, media and marketing communications industry.

IPTV – Internet Protocol Television – a system where digital television is delivered using Internet Protocol over a closed network infrastructure. IPTV services include Tiscali TV.

ISBA – Incorporated Society of British Advertisers – the industry body representing the interests of advertisers.

Lifestage – Household classification system based on family time-of-life characteristics, e.g. ‘couple with grown-up children who have left home’, etc.

Lifestyle – Classification technique based on individual behavioral preferences, such as leisure activities or recreational habits.

Live viewing – Viewing of a programme or commercial at the actual time of transmission, it excludes any time-shifted viewing (i.e. watched via video or hard disk recording).

Multi-channel home – Homes that are equipped to receive TV channels other than analogue terrestrial, via Digital Satellite, Digital Cable or Digital Terrestrial.

Multi-platform home – Homes that receive channels other than just analogue terrestrial delivered via more than one platform (i.e. Satellite and Cable, or Cable and DTT).

Multiplex – The vehicle on which digitally-compressed channels are compressed and combined onto the same carrier frequency.

Ofcom – The independent regulator and competition authority for all the UK communications industries.

OTS – Opportunity to See: this refers to the number of chances an average member of your target audience will have of being exposed to your advertisement during the campaign. OTS will be different for each advertising medium, so you can’t necessarily compare them.

Out of home viewing – Defined as the TV audience viewing outside private homes, typically meaning pubs, clubs, offices, hospitals, hotel rooms, etc. (excluded by BARB).

Overlap – Approximately 15% of households in the UK are in an overlap area between two ITV regions and so can, and often do, view two or more ITV stations.

Overnights – A term used to describe viewing data made available the following day. Comprised only of ‘live’ viewing.

Panel – Representative survey sample from which data are collected over time.

Penetration – The percentage of people or homes within a defined universe, physically able to watch a channel.

People-meters – Used by BARB to record electronically the TV viewing of the panel, comprising a set meter and separate handset.

Persistence – Minimum interval required before a setmeter records a change of either TV set status or viewer presence.

Platform – The means by which broadcast material is delivered to the home, e.g. analogue terrestrial, digital satellite, digital cable, etc.

Population – In the case of TV, the total population is defined as all individuals aged four or over in UK private households who contain a TV set in working order.

Profile – A means by which viewers to a channel, programme or daypart may be broken down across a single variable such as age or class, always totaling 100.

Programme sponsor – Promotion whereby an advertiser pays for association with a given programme.

Promotion – A promotional message placed by broadcasters, aimed at attracting audiences to forthcoming programmes or events.

Ratings (Rating Points) – Television ratings (TVRatings, TVRs) are expressed as a percentage of the potential TV audience viewing at any given time.

Reach – The cumulative percentage of a population measured to have viewed at least once, for a specified consecutive period (typically 1+, 3+ or 20+ mins).

SAP – Station Average Price – the estimated cost of audience delivery on a TV station, based on advertising cost per thousand for a specific audience category.

Share – The share of total viewing time is equivalent to the percentage of total viewing time accounted for by each channel.

Simulcasting – The simultaneous broadcasting of a TV channel or programme on two or more different transmission systems.

Social Economic Group – Classification of social status, usually based on the occupation of the head of household and most commonly summarised as grades AB, C1, C2, and DE.

Staggercast – Broadcast of channel content on a secondary channel at a fixed time after the original broadcast. Usually, one hour and thus commonly labeled ‘+1’.

Strikeweight – The weight of advertising bought per week.

TVR – Television Viewer Rating: This is expressed as a percentage of the potential TV viewing audience viewing at any given time. A TVR measures the popularity of a particular TV show or advertisement by comparing the number of members of your target audience who watched, compared to the total available as a whole.

One TVR is 1% of a target audience. For example, if an ad slot gets a teenagers’ TVR of 15 that means 15% of teenagers saw the ad.

Universe – The total population that is being measured or reported, as defined by a selection of demographic, geographic or other criteria.

VOD – Video on Demand: This is the on demand services offered by many providers and TV stations these days. This often includes a catch-up service of shows that have been broadcast recently, as well as films and shows that have not been shown on normal TV. Most TV stations have an on demand service these days and VOD should not be overlooked when it comes to advertising.

Widescreen – The term for TV screen displays with a wider aspect ratio than the traditional 4:3. HDTV employs a 16:9 aspect ratio.

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