SkyView: deeper insights from a set top box panel

Julian Dobinson
BSkyB, United Kingdom


Since the first digital set top boxes were launched there has been the possibility of using them to collect data. They have memory and there is a return path. However, so far use has been limited to a handful of experiments around the world. For example, in July 1997 an experiment was run by Next Century Media to download software to collect viewing data from 500 homes in Atlanta. Eighteen months ago Sky took the decision to develop the technology to enable set top box measurement and commissioned TNS to build a large panel of 20,000 homes which will be used for ongoing collection of data. However, the purpose of this is much more than standard audience measurement. By combining forces with TNS and utilising their existing panels Sky are creating a more powerful dataset which gives far more than just viewing behaviour. The panel will combine viewing data, interactive usage, product purchase, and subscriber behaviour in a single source. Whilst set top box panels have their limitations (of which more later) a great advantage is that once recruited the respondents do not have to do anything. This means that research fatigue is not an issue and that more data can potentially be collected in other areas giving a very rich set of data for analysis.