Boston Station Cries Foul as Ratings Fall

WCVB's ratings are falling and they have an excuse as to why.

The station is blaming Nielsen for their sagging ratings. 

The station has even written a letter to advertisers blaming Nielsen for the falloff in numbers.

The letter, from WCVB’s general sales manager Andy Hoffman, says the station believes the ratings service — used by nearly all television stations nationwide to gauge audience numbers — relied too heavily on a sample that included too many young people and too many New Hampshire residents.

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

The Boston Herald says that WCVB 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 station 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 WCVB. The ratings service has assigned a “swat team” to deal with the issue.