BARB, the UK's official ratings body, recently announced they're going to start measuring the use of online catch-up services from August 2013. This information will be used in official reports concerning how many people watch any given TV show via computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
We're not at the stage where online viewership is automatically included in the "overnights" (BARB's ratings for the previous day's TV shows, which often get inflated when you factor in the week's catch-up views and repeat showings), but we're close. It's surely only a matter of time before the UK gets comprehensive information about the viewing habits of its entire population, and perhaps many "low rated" TV shows will see a significant bounce when those watching on mobile devices are included.
Do you think that will ever happen? Do you actually watch shows on devices other than a television, routinely? Or are traditional overnight figures going to remain largely unchanged?
Of course, the big change we're long overdue is a system where BARB calculate viewership without merely taking a sampling of 5,100 homes (11,500 participants) and using their data to extrapolate what 58 million people are (most likely) watching. But then you start wandering into Orwellian territory, if you're not a willing participant and your television is telling an outside agency what you're watching. And even if there was some kind of opt-in scheme for 'anonymous automated feedback', chances are only a certain type of individual would participate... and that would skew results more than the current system. Yeah, it's a tricky one...