Updated March 30 at 6:25pm

WPRI creeps up on WJAR dominance


CRANSTON – WJAR-TV NBC 10 beat WPRI-TV CBS 12 across the board but – with two wins in its pockets – WPRI claims it’s chipping away at its competitor’s news programming dominance.

WJAR beat WPRI in all time slots except for two – the 7 p.m. and the 11 p.m. slots, according to data collected by the Nielsen Company rating agency during November sweeps.

Nielsen does not release the data to the public but leaves it up to the individual television stations to distribute the information.

WPRI beat WJAR at 11 p.m. for the third consecutive year 6.1 to 5.6, according to Jay Howell, general manager of WPRI in East Providence. WJAR, on the other hand, claimed a “statistical tie.”

“We beat them significantly. It’s not a tie,” Howell said.

WJAR News Director Chris Lanni highlighted the audience retention level from the 11 p.m. “lead-in” – the show before the newscast – as 108 percent, while WPRI – he said – retains only 81 percent of its audience.

At 6 p.m. WJAR earned a “9” and WPRI earned a “7.”

“We’re closer at 6 p.m. than we’ve been in 20 years [and] I only have records that go back 20 years,” said Howell.

“This is no longer a WJAR-dominated market,” said Howell. “We grew in every newscast except noon – and no one else can say that.” The 7 p.m. slot was also a victory for WPRI, which has Wheel of Fortune at that hour, while WJAR’s newscast lagged.

“The 7 p.m. [newscast] is up 16 percent from its sweeps debut in November 2010. While we were hoping for a win over Wheel, we missed it by just 0.46 of a ratings point. This one-year show also beat all of 12’s newscasts – our 7 p.m. has a 7.24. WPRI’s highest-rated newscast is their 6 p.m., which has a 6.67,” said Lanni in an emailed statement.

Both stations expanded their morning newscast to begin at 4:30 a.m. from 5 a.m. as of Nov. 28.

“We’re all seeing fewer viewers for the late newscast and that’s partially due to people have Tivos,” said Howell. “How people watch TV is really changing – especially at night. Mornings is where the growth is in local television.”

WJAR lost 12 percent of viewers from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. while WPRI gained 22 percent, according to Howell. “The trends are unmistakable. People are switching to our morning news in droves.”

WLNE-TV ABC6 did not have its Nielsen results available in time for this report.


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