CFlight: measuring reach and frequency across linear TV and BVOD

As TV advertising has expanded and advanced TV has emerged in all its glory, measurement has become more challenging. The good news is that there is now a tool to help manage the measurement of total TV viewing, CFlight.

CFlight is the UK’s first unified TV advertising metric that captures the vast majority of live, time-shifted and on-demand commercial impacts and impressions across all viewing platforms. CFlight enables media buyers to see the overall advertising exposure is for their TV campaigns, notably reach and frequency metrics.

Originally created by NBCU in the US, CFlight was adapted for the UK marketplace by Sky. Broadcaster CFlight is a joint initiative between Sky Media, ITV Media and 4 Sales. Industry bodies BARB, Thinkbox and Clearcast have facilitated CFlight’s development, and TV audience specialists RSMB and TechEdge have played integral roles in terms of data architecture and processing.

CFlight FAQs

We’ve gathered together answers to your key questions about CFlight, find out more below:

What is CFlight?

  • CFlight is the UK’s first unified TV advertising metric that captures the vast majority of live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impacts and impressions across all viewing platforms
  • CFlight is a post-campaign online evaluation tool. It produces campaign reports that provide de-duplicated total reach and frequency across linear TV and broadcaster VOD (BVOD)

Which companies are behind CFlight?

  • Broadcaster CFlight is a joint initiative between Sky Media, ITV Media and 4 Sales. CFlight was created by NBCU, a Comcast company, in the US. Comcast-owned Sky redeveloped it for its own purposes in the UK, and also instigated this three-way collaboration with ITV Media and 4 Sales, which tailors the methodology to the UK’s broadcasting ecosystem
  • Industry bodies BARB, Thinkbox and Clearcast have facilitated CFlight’s development, and TV audience specialists RSMB and TechEdge have played integral roles in terms of data architecture and processing
  • CFlight is a pioneering and technically complex project involving over 50 people and 10 organisations

CFlight-A-major-TV-collaboration

What are RSMB and TechEdge’s roles?

  • Audience research consultancy RSMB has designed the calculation methodology. RSMB is a long-standing supplier to BARB, and has used its audience measurement expertise to write the underlying algorithms which unite the BARB panel’s linear impacts with census-based on-demand impressions
  • Media data processing specialists TechEdge are implementing RSMB’s CFlight model and integrating it into a web application, through which users can generate CFlight report requests. TechEdge then collate the data and run it through the CFlight model which is then made available for online report  generation
  • Both companies are highly respected in the media research world, having longstanding involvement in UK TV audience measurement

Which broadcasters and players are covered?

In addition to Channel 4, ITV and Sky’s channels, apps and portals, CFlight includes STV, UKTV and Channel 5 channels and their respective BVOD players, and their VOD ads on Virgin Media. BT Sport is on the roadmap. We estimate that CFlight covers over 98% of UK broadcaster advertising.

Who can have access to CFlight?

  • CFlight will be made available at no cost to agencies that run linear and BVOD advertising campaigns. Media buyers will be required to register. The online portal has been developed by TechEdge, who also host it. It is a standalone system, unconnected to TechEdge subscription services
  • Agencies will be able to see their own campaign data

What will CFlight data show?

Initially CFlight combines linear TV advertising impacts with BVOD impressions to give total exposure counts at a broad audience level (Adults). Future phases are planned in 2022 to 2024 to add greater flexibility and functionality

  • Combined impacts/impressions across linear and BVOD
  • Reach and frequency across linear and BVOD campaigns
  • Comprehensive exposure measurement across devices, platforms and apps
  • BVOD-only campaigns (future phase)

Which devices and apps are included?

  • Most linear TV impacts and impressions served around broadcaster on demand content
  • BVOD players: ITV Hub, All 4, UKTV Play, STV Player, Sky Go, Sky on Demand, NOW TV, Virgin Media VOD, My5
  • Devices: Connected TVs, set top boxes, PCs, Macs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, games consoles
  • Browsers: Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, etc
  • …In fact there are no player, device or browser exceptions that we know of

What is CFlight’s methodology?

  • CFlight combines BARB panel linear TV impacts, reach and frequency and census-level BVOD impressions and account reach data. Industry standard datasets such as BARB Dovetail and the Touchpoints fusion feed the models, alongside bespoke survey data.
  • The calculations are extensive and complex, written by RSMB for TechEdge to apply. There are the following broad steps:
    1. A machine learning algorithm tackles data cleaning requirements, completing missing classifications.
    2. Impressions are scaled to be the equivalent of linear impacts, using viewers per view (VPV) factors built using BARB data.
    3. Segmented universes based on platform access are built, taking into account household composition where necessary and overlaps.
    4. For each BVOD Service (player), the relationship between account level reach, impressions and frequency is encoded into a robust statistical model (NBD), a la the BARB Gold Standard.
    5. Further machine learning models are used to deduplicate reach across different services for each segment. These steps deliver daily deduplicated reach and total impacts for the selected clocks.
    6. Frequencies are calculated using another robust statistical model, following the BARB Gold Standard for frequency reporting.
  • CFlight’s development has been aided by recent work by Clearcast/Peach which identifies BVOD copy numbers and supplies them to TechEdge, enabling the accurate matching of linear and BVOD creative copy.

What are the inputs to the model?

The model works by taking:

  1. Three datasets from each of ITV, Channel 4 and UKTV, Sky Media and STV containing recent user account universes, daily impression counts and cumulative frequency distributions
  2. BARB linear universe data
  3. BARB linear campaign reach and frequency data
  4. Rolling parameters derived from BARB and BARB Dovetail data
  5. Static data from a bespoke ‘Landscape’ survey

What are the run parameters?

  • Users of CFlight can select:
    - A campaign date range of between 5 and 63 days (up to 9 weeks/2 months)
    - A campaign start date running from 1st July 2021
    - Up to 25 clock numbers
    - The audience for the launch phase is Adults

What is the report output and how long will it take to produce?

  • Reports will specify impacts and impressions, and de-duplicated reach and frequency across BVOD and linear TV
  • In the first few weeks reports may take 24 hours to produce, from the time a request file is generated and the broadcaster input data has been sent back to TechEdge for processing, while the processing demands are calibrated
  • It is expected that after the early launch phase straightforward runs will take a few hours, but overnight runs are expected to be the norm for large or complex campaigns

What reassurance of accuracy do agencies have?

CFlight has asked ABC, the media measurement JIC, to conduct audits of the model’s operation. ABC is scrutinising the impression data inputs that are supplied by each of the broadcasters’ ad servers, and if it finds any quality issues it will make recommendations to improve the processes.

What is planned for future phases?

  • The priority has been to launch CFlight as swiftly as a technical collaboration of this scale and complexity can be achieved
  • CFlight is being rolled out providing unique insights into TV+BVOD campaigns, based on All Adults and broad measures
  • It will become an ever-more sophisticated measurement system, and has been designed to be enhanced in future phases over the next 2 to 3 years
  • The most eagerly anticipated functionality upgrade is currently scheduled for Q4 2022: the main TV buying audiences
  • The second major upgrade will be regionality (if during the planning process the data is found to be robust enough to do so at this level), expected in mid-2023.
  • In and around these, further incremental improvements will be added
  • All dates and phases are subject to change, but we will keep you informed

Access requests can be made via CFlight.co.uk or [email protected]

To be eligible to use the tool you must have recently bought linear or VOD airtime from Sky Media, ITV Media, 4 Sales or STV.


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