The BBC may face draconian job cuts among its 27,000 staff - at least 2,900 redundancies are planned [WAMN: 10-Dec-04] - but there is an absence of worried faces within the corporation's Audience & Consumer Research Unit.

The ACRU has entered "the start of a new relationship" with European market researcher GfK. As of April 2005, the new order will introduce an innovative audience measurement methodology aimed at delivering faster and better systems for measuring audience reaction to TV and radio programmes.

The main improvements will be …

  • Replacing the current paper and pencil postal method with an online system that allows respondents to log on either at work or home and rate the previous night's programmes.

  • Releasing data for each programme 36 hours after broadcast (versus sixteen days at present).

  • Increased flexibility to respond to unforeseen circumstances such as last minute schedule changes or major news events.

  • A massively enlarged panel - 15,000 adults, and a separate group of 1500 children - compared to the current aggregated sample of just 3,000.

    According to head of television research Sam Smith, the current paper-based system provided by Ipsos now seems "very slow and pretty inflexible".

    Says Smith: "This new system will provide a 36-hour turnaround on audience reaction data. Not only is this of immense value to programme makers, it helps us deliver to our public service remit by helping the BBC understand what audiences truly value about our programmes and services."

    A pilot scheme is already under way, reveals GfK's Nick North. "We'll be reporting back to the BBC ... regularly over the next few months to ensure we get it perfect before the contract starts properly in April 2005."

    Data sourced from (UK); additional content by WARC staff