After a year of key personnel changes, WCNC (Channel 36) is showing dramatic gains in local news ratings.
An analysis of Nielsen ratings of Charlotte newscasts in May sweeps by the Observer shows that WCNC – long the city’s third-place news operation – had its best performance since February 2014, when its ratings were buoyed by the Winter Olympics on NBC.
Overall ratings are up about a quarter on the key 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, which were taken over in September by the new anchor team of Beth Troutman and Fred Shropshire.
Over the past year, several veteran personalities have departed from the station including anchors Dave Wagner and Sonja Gantt, sports director Christopher Clark, investigative reporter Stuart Watson, crime reporter Glenn Counts and daytime anchor Anjanette Flowers.
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WCNC changed ownership in December 2013 and is now operated by industry giant Tegna. In a reshuffling of executives, Deborah Collura has taken over as general manager and Matt King as news director.
WCNC also performed well among viewers in the 25-54 age range, the bread-and-butter demographic in TV broadcasting because it is the target audience most advertisers want to reach. At 6 p.m., the station saw an 83 percent increase in viewers in that demographic and a 67 percent gain at 6 a.m.
WSOC’s (Channel 9) newscasts remained dominant in the target ad demographic overall, though WBTV (Channel 3) continued leading in viewers of all ages at 6 a.m., noon and 11 p.m.
Fox-owned WJZY (Channel 46) showed gains in the three-way 10 p.m. news race, though much of its surge came on Wednesday nights after the network’s No. 1 drama “Empire.”
On that night, WJZY has about 83,200 viewers in the ad demographic tuned to the station in the minutes leading up to the newscast, a huge audience. On the other four weeknights, the average is 8,700.
Though the station loses two-thirds of the audience after the 10 p.m. news report begins, it still retains enough to show significant gains when the numbers are averaged throughout the time period during the week.
WAXN (Channel 64) continues to lead in overall audience at 10 p.m., and WCCB (Channel 18) leads among viewers in the 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen. WCCB continues to outperform most other CW stations around the country in ratings and was honored last month at the network’s affiliate meeting in New York.
Charlotte’s television market includes 22 counties from the Virginia line to Chester, S.C. Among news viewers in the 25-54 demographic, WSOC is No. 1 in Mecklenburg, the largest county in the region, followed by No. 2 WCNC and No. 3 WBTV. WBTV is dominant west of the Catawba River and WSOC is dominant to the east.
Estimated total viewers reached by key weekday newscasts during the May sweeps and percentage change from last May as measured by Nielsen.