The new NBC Boston owned and operated station and former NBC affiliate WHDH are both struggling in the market after an acrimonious divorce.
According to the Boston Globe’s assessment of Nielsen data, NBC Boston’s newscasts are finishing last with the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. The station’s 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news programs drew 5,555 and 9,340 viewers, well behind the local ABC affiliate’s 26,940 and 38,338 average viewers for those time slots.
The report says that some NBC Boston news broadcasts registered a 0.0 on the ratings scale.
Still, NBC Boston has NBC’s national programming to fall back on, including the highly rated "Today Show" in the morning.
WHDH on the other hand no longer has any access to NBC’s programming and suffered a ratings drop of 0.8 to 1.7 when it had to replace the "Today Show" with local news programming. The station’s 6 p.m. news program used to top the ratings for the market, but now it has slipped to second place.
WHDH General Manager Paul Magnes acknowledged the setbacks but told the Globe that the newly independent station is “happy with how we’re doing with what we have.”
Despite the early struggles for NBC Boston, which is run by Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, the station will continue its aggressive marketing campaign, according to the report.
NBC Boston kicked off its launch with a marketing blitz that stretched across multiple platforms and employed a host of NBC stars like Matt Lauer and Jimmy Fallon.
The new station, with the call letters WBTS, will have NBC programming like "Thursday Night Football" and "The Voice" to help attract viewers.
In addition to fighting for market share following an abrupt change, NBCU and Comcast were forced to cobble together a signal strong enough to serve the entire Boston market area.
“We have just entered into an agreement with another full-power Boston station (WFMP) to rebroadcast the NBC Boston signal on its available digital channel until we can acquire another full-power station in the market,” said David Cohen, senior EVP of Comcast, in response to Senator Ed Markey’s concerns about the signal reach of the new station.
Meanwhile, as Variety previously pointed out, multiple TV signal sources could make it difficult for NBC Boston to market itself and for local viewers to find the channel.