by Harvey Oberfeld
May 29 2023
TV ratings in the US are an open book … published regularly for all to see. Not so in Canada, where broadcasters guard their viewership numbers from all but a very select few.
But the Blog has obtained stat pages covering FOUR separate days of TV News program ratings in April and May in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver … with some fascinating details, especially for my BC readers.
And it sure looks to me like Global Vancouver News’ transition to too many soft stories, too much government-messenger-like rather than tough political reporting/questioning and too frequent fawning promotional Chinese/East Indian/First Nations “community” pieces …more propaganda than real news … have cost them viewers!
And apparently sending many to CTV.
Remember that, for decades, BCTV’s Newshour regularly outdrew its closest competitor (CTV) with five and six times the number of viewers.
That worked out regularly to 500,000 to 650,000 nightly viewers BC-wide … and TV ratings points of 5.5 to 6.5 … sometimes even higher … while CTV languished around 1 rating point, and CBC at 6 p.m. barely registered on the scale!
(For those interested in technical definitions “Ratings point is a measure of viewership of a particular television programme. One single television ratings point (Rtg or TVR) represents 1% of television households in the surveyed area in a given minute.” Wikipedia)
Those numbers … and the huge gap between BCTV and CTV … was not only great for our egos when I spent 26 years at BCTV, its was very, very good for management, advertisers and station $$$$!
But today, ratings are down, way down from BCTV’s peak, due to the wider variety of channels, so many other media sources etc. … and also, I contend, a DECLINE in the quality of what Global, the successor to BCTV, offers its viewers!
While CTV is doing better.
On May 5, Global scored it’s current “normal” ratings point score of 2.1, but interestingly, CTV was UP … to 1.6 ratings points, closing the formerly double, quadruple or quintuple gap between the two stations significantly.
An anomaly? That could be one way to spin it … except there were also “anomalies” in April, according to the docs I obtained. (And who knows how many other “anomalies” occurred in other days/weeks/months?)
In fact, on April 19, Global Newshour captured 2.7 ratings points, while CTV News at Six scored 1.4; on April 11, Global 2.9; CTV 1.5; and, on April 10, Global 2.9; CTV 1.8 … narrowing the gap.
On those same dates, CTV 5 p.m. News BEAT Global’s ratings on ALL four occasions: May 5, CTV 1.3, Global 0.3; April 19, CTV 1.7, Global 0.6; April 11, CTV 0.7, Global 0.4; and April 10, CTV 1.3, Global 0.4. Wow!!
And for the Late News, it’s now almost a draw! May 5, CTV 1.3, Global 1.1; April 19, Global 1.3, CTV 1.0; April 11, Global 1.7, CTV 1.3; and April 10, Global 1.6, CTV 1.3.
CTV seems to be closing the gap with Global in BC … something unheard of for decades!
(If Global has more extensive data and would like to make it available to my readers, I’m sure we’d all be happy to see it.)
However, based on these daily readouts, I feel somewhat vindicated.
Readers of this Blog will be well aware of my rants about the decline at my once-mighty alma mater when it comes to hiring standards (ethnicity seems more important than journalistic skills, experience), resulting in my view lower reporting quality, poorer writing quality, almost non-existent tough questioning or hard challenging of those in power, even when they make gaffes or fail to deliver what they promised.
And doing too much with too little is also evident, I believe, in the lesser quality of their video shooting and editing possibilities that used to be so enjoyable for viewers to watch.
The station has lost its edge … the hook that captured hundreds of thousands more loyal nightly viewers when it was BCTV!
I’m glad they don’t call it BCTV anymore. May it Rest in Peace.
CTV News also has some distance to go journalistically, especially in political coverage and its questioning too, but have to admit I’m sometimes happily surprised when I tune in to at least see some interesting stories there that I had not already heard all day long on the radio!
If these figures over four days are indeed an indication of what is happening, clearly Global viewers have also noticed what I have … and are moving away.
You have to wonder if Global management … both local and senior management (back East) … have noticed what has been happening, have been oblivious to it … or are responsible for it, which is even worse.