How does ITV and BBC accurately know how many viewers watch a particular program?

    How does BBC & ITV accurately estimate how many viewers watched a particular program?           Is there any electronic way or do they rely solely on a small group of selected 'watchers' to report their preferences and convert it to a percentage?

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    Who measures TV ratings?
    In the UK, TV ratings are measured by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB), which bases its figures on a sample 5,100 households. The panel has been chosen to be as representative as possible, with varying geographic location, age, social class and gender.

    What are overnights?
    Overnights are ratings released the next day, which are based on data obtained from the panel overnight. These early estimates do not take into account video recordings, so official figures (normally released 1-2 weeks later) are often higher than the overnights.

    What is an audience share?
    The audience share measures the percentage of the current viewing audience who are watching the programme in question. Generally this figure will have more meaning than the total viewing figure. For example, 2 million viewers for a BBC One programme may not be too impressive in an 8pm timeslot (typically equating to a share of 10%), but the same number of viewers in a 1am timeslot would be considered more than respectable (equating roughly to a 60% share).

    What are 'demos'?
    Demos, short for demographics, give information about the type of people watching the show. Different demographics measure the number of people watching a given programme based on age, gender and other classes. These are usually much more relevant than the overall figures, as they allow advertisers to purchase airtime during targeted programmes. For example, a cleaning product firm is more likely to prefer to advertise during the daytime and between programmes with a high housewives share. Generally, the most sought-after demographic is young males, who tend to have a higher purchasing power.

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