WCVB tops news ratings for 4th straight quarter

By Johnny Diaz
Globe Staff / November 25, 2010

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Channel 5 is ending the year with a ratings bang.

WCVB-TV claimed the most viewers in the November competitive race, the fourth straight quarterly sweeps period in which the ABC affiliate captured the biggest news audience in Boston — except at 10 p.m., when it does not have a newscast.

In recent years, the station has generally dominated only the early-morning, midday, and early-evening newscasts, with either WHDH-TV (Channel 7) or WBZ-TV (Channel 4) commanding the 11 p.m. news race.

Preliminary ratings for November sweeps, which ended last night, show WCVB continuing to pull ahead of its competitors for total viewers and in key demographics. The final numbers, which are used to help set advertising rates, will include last night’s tally and will be available by Nielsen Co. Monday.

Bill Fine, WCVB’s president and general manager, was pleased with his station’s performance, particularly in the highly lucrative 11 p.m. newscast. WCVB won the time slot with 173,000 viewers, up 20 percent from a year ago. WBZ ranked second, with 143,000 viewers.

“Although all newscasts are important, the 11 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts are still considered the newscasts of record,’’ Fine said.

The November sweeps were the first with four local 4:30 a.m. newscasts in competition. The numbers reveal a population of early birds hungry for traffic, weather, and news in the predawn hours.

In that time slot, WCVB led with 25,000 total viewers, followed by WFXT-TV (Channel 25) with 17,000, WBZ with 13,000, and NECN with 5,000. WHDH does not have a 4:30 newscast.

WCVB also benefited from strong ABC network ratings performances in Boston. Last week’s Tuesday night episode of “Dancing With the Stars,’’ for example, drew 504,000 viewers locally, the third-most-watched local program that week. “The Oprah Winfrey Show,’’ in its last season, has also resurged in ratings at 4 p.m., delivering more viewers to WCVB’s 5 p.m. newscast, which had 166,000 viewers this month, up 10,000 from last November.

“Oprah in the final year has certainly captured more attention,’’ Fine said.

WFXT also had some bragging rights, leading at 10 p.m. with 102,400 total viewers. Second was WLVI-TV (Channel 56), with 45,100. WLVI has been growing steadily among 25- to 54-year-olds at that hour.

“We’ve made significant gains against our competition,’’ said Chris Wayland, general manager of WHDH and WLVI.

Johnny Diaz can be reached at