WCVB Blames Nielsen for Ratings Drop

By Kevin Eck 

wcvb_304Boston ABC affiliate WCVB is telling its advertisers it’s not the station’s fault the ratings have dropped recently, it’s because the people who count the viewers are doing it wrong.

The Boston Herald reports WCVB’s GSM Andy Hoffman told station advertisers Nielsen included too many young people and New Hampshire residents in its sample.

“The Massachusetts segment of the DMA (designated market area) has become under-sampled while the New Hampshire segment has become over-sampled,” Hoffman wrote.


Channel 5 says its investigation also showed that households with viewers under 35 may have been over-represented, as well as houses that rely solely on broadband to deliver TV stations — most of which are in New Hampshire.

The increase in the size of the New Hampshire sample is a problem for Channel 5 because WMUR in the Granite State simulcasts the same programming as WCVB. And the increase in younger viewers is also unhelpful because everyone knows that kids get all their news and entertainment online!

“It’s affected all the stations in the market, not just us,” said ’CVB program director Betsy Braun, who, BTW, also programs WMUR in N.H. “In some cases we’ve seen double-digit declines in percentages, even though we continue to be No. 1 in ratings for our newscasts across the board.”

Word is, other Boston stations have also raised concerns about the numbers.

A source familiar with the situation said there does indeed seem to be a problem, and Nielsen has acknowledged that in a letter to Channel 5. The ratings service has assigned a “swat team” to deal with the issue, our source said, and hopes to have some progress by the end of the week. Do stay tuned.