To some, Boston is the Hub of the Universe (to paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes). To the varied local media players, it’s one of the most competitive news markets in the country. It also has one of the best educated populations. With more than 40 colleges and universities, 64 percent of those watching news have a college degree compared to the national average of about 48 percent.
Besides storied sports franchises the Bruins, Red Sox and Celtics, the other great sport in Boston is politics. In January, the market’s media enjoyed a hefty infusion of political dollars for the special election for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat. A lot quieter now, political is expected to heat up again for the governor’s race, some House seats and a Senate race in New Hampshire.
When it comes to local news, WCVB-TV, Hearst Television’s ABC affiliate (which simulcasts most of its programming on WMUR in Manchester, N.H.), sweeps all dayparts in adults 25-54, with the exception of 6-7 a.m., which goes to WHDH, Sunbeam Television’s NBC affiliate. WFXT-TV, Fox Television’s owned-and-operated outlet, grabs honors at 7–9 a.m. when the other affiliates air the network morning news shows. And while WCVB is the highest rated newscast at 11 p.m., WFXT-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast outrates all the late news broadcasts regardless of time period.
As in other markets, stations in Boston are pushing the start time of early morning news even earlier. New England Cable News (now owned by Comcast after buying out Hearst’s 50 percent last year) launched 4:30 a.m. news in April, a move echoed in early May by WBZ, CBS Television’s O&O.
Positioning the station to take advantage of Oprah’s departure from WCVB in the fall, WFXT moved its 5 p.m. news to 6 p.m. and put Dr. Oz at 5 to attract Oprah’s audience. At 6:30 p.m., when the network affiliates air network news, WFXT airs the syndicated TMZ.
WBZ operates a local news service with WFXT to share video. But the station also leverages CBS Radio’s five local siblings, especially No. 2-ranked news/talk WBZ-AM which is in the same building as the TV station, and sports WBZ-FM, launched in January to take on Entercom Communications’ sports-ratings leader, WEEI-AM. Known as the Sports Hub, WBZ-FM is already besting WEEI in the target men 18-49 demo. Both TV and radio take advantage of CBS Scene Restaurant at Gillette Stadium for live broadcasts of New England Patriots games.
In addition to sports radio, talk radio is also popular in Boston. In April, Clear Channel debuted Rush Radio, a new talk outlet on WXKS-AM, which formerly aired a Spanish tropical format as WKOX. The move came after CC was able to upgrade the signal and snag Rush Limbaugh, who ended a long, 15-year run on Entercom’s talk WRKO-AM.
Even with its powerhouse syndicated lineup, WXKS has some catching up to do to reach the top-rated talk stations, Boston University’s WBUR-FM, Greater Media’s WTKK-FM and WRKO, which are all neck and neck in the overall ratings ranks.
Both of the market’s two major embattled papers, New York Times Co.’s The Boston Globe and Patrick Purcell’s Boston Herald, are looking at paid online models and other ways to offset declining circulation. The Globe’s circ fell 23 percent to 232,432; the paper recently doubled its home delivery subscription price. The Herald did slightly better, down 12 percent to 132,551.
The New York Times Co. was finally forced to take the Globe off the market after rejecting two bids that were too low for its taste. Concentration on its online initiatives, the Globe continues to expand its hyperlocal community sites, now at 22. In March, the Globe launched a video newscast on Boston.com called Globe Today covering the day’s headlines.
Clear Channel Outdoor is Boston’s largest operator, offering a wide range of formats including bulletins, posters, spectaculars, bus/commuter rail and advertising at Logan International Airport. JCDecaux has the street furniture contract. Titan has the ad rights to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s network of buses, light rail and subway. CBS Outdoor also offers some bulletin inventory and mall advertising.
TV DMA Rank: 7
Population 2-plus: 5,983,812
TV Households: 2,410,180
TV Stations (Net/Ind/Multicast/Public): 8/10/6/8
Wired Cable Households: 2,040,560
Radio Metro Rank: 10
Population 6-plus: 3,977,400
Radio Stations (rated): 56
Newspapers (Daily/Weekly): 30/77