Viewers Tuning Out Boston Newscasts

As NBC gets ready to launch their new station in Boston, viewers are tuning out local newscasts.

The Boston Herald writes that all four of the major local stations — WCVB, WHDH, WFXT and WBZ — lost audience at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. from the May 2015 sweeps period to the May 2016 sweeps in the critical 25- to 54-year-old demographic, the audience advertisers want most.

WBZ, which recently replaced its news director, had only 18,000 adult viewers at 6 p.m. and just 16,000 at 11 p.m. ’BZ even loses the 11 p.m. news race to Fox25 (WFXT), which has no network programming as its lead-in at 11, but still draws 23,000 adults.

WCVB, which introduced new star anchorgal Maria Stephanos in February, actually had more viewers in that demo last May with Heather Unruh on the anchor­ desk alongside Ed Harding.

Conversely, WFXT, which lost Stephanos last August, lost half its adult audience at 6 p.m. when she went to WCVB.

And WHDH, which is facing the loss of its NBC affiliation to the new NBC Boston, actually picked up 2,000 adult viewers at 6 p.m. but lost 6,000 at 11 p.m.

“We are all down,” said one TV insider. “You never like to see it. But there’s always an ebb and flow.”

Viewership was down overall from the February sweeps period when it gets darker earlier and more people are inside watching local news. There is also more original network programming in February than May, when some reruns begin.

But the overall trend is that viewers are leaving TV and opting to get their news elsewhere, on phones, computers, etc. And local stations keep adding newscasts in an effort to hang on to their audience.