New figures from Britain’s BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) suggest the terrestrial television sector made significant gains in January.

The latest results give beleaguered network ITV (the UK’s leading ad-funded broadcaster) an 18% surge in commercial impacts compared with January 2002, and a 13% jump in peak-time audience. There were also gains at Channel 4, where commercial impacts rose 8.6% (an impressive 21% in the 16–34-year-old demographic), and Channel 5, up 7.4%.

But before the terrestrial stations break out the champagne, it should be remembered that the comparison figures from January 2002 were hit by the chaos surrounding a extended change in the structure of the BARB panel.

Indeed, media buyers are taking talk of a sudden renaissance in the sector with several fistfuls of salt. Declared Carat buying director David Peters: “The rises say more about how unstable the data was twelve months ago, than reflecting any amazing recovery from ITV and C4.”

Nevertheless, the rise in official viewing figures will bring benefits to advertisers, as the latest data equates to a fall of around 20% in the cost-per-thousand price for slots on ITV. “It’s good news if there’s an increase in the supply of commercial audiences, as this reduces prices for our clients,” Peters continued.

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