Boston Station's Ratings Fall Under New Owner

Cox is finding out that being the new kid on the block is a bit tough.

Cox Media Group acquired WFTX in Boston after trading with Fox for their San Francisco station.

Now, a look at the ratings show that the station under Cox is dropping.

The Boston Globe writes that the ratings are down for WFXT’s news shows in almost every time period, and most dramatically during the early-morning hours.

For example, Fox 25’s ratings fell 27 percent in November from a year ago during the 5 a.m. hour for the 25-54 demographic, and 14 percent in the 6 a.m. hour. One bright spot: the 5 p.m. newscast, where viewership was up 6 percent, year over year. (Cox officials declined to comment about the ratings.)

The station management, led by general manager Tom Raponi, who came from a former Cox station in the San Francisco market – made some big changes to the station’s approach to news.

Most notably, the station hired a crop of new reporters while significantly scaling back its on-air guests and commentary. But all that banter and opinions were one way to differentiate Fox 25 from the other local stations. An early high-profile result of that shift: Doug “VB” Goudie was out last November, soon after the Cox takeover. Goudie then reunited with Howie Carr to work on Carr’s radio show.

There have been a few other departures since then, including popular anchor Maria Stephanos, who left abruptly in September. Investigative reporter Mike Beaudet also left, and later joined rival WCVB’s team. Their exits prompted Goudie to pen a column in the Boston Herald in September, opining that the local TV news programs are all too similar now.

Fox 25 still has plenty of familiar faces among its on-air talent, such as Mark Ockerbloom, Stephanos’s former co-anchor in the evenings.

But the November ratings decline puts more pressure on the newcomers to win over Boston viewers. It’s not something that happens overnight.