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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., May 27) -- cutting to The Chase

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Perhaps you noticed. Marathon live coverage of Wednesday’s mostly slo-mo car chase through North Texas prompted Fox4, NBC5, Gannett8 and CBS11 to dump out of regularly scheduled afternoon programming.

The pursuit of a 42-year-old idiot named Joe Gonzales filled home screens from roughly 1:45 to 4 p.m., when a SWAT truck finally rammed his vehicle and sent him skidding to a stop. Let’s look at the respective audiences from 2 to 4 p.m. But first the casualties during those hours.

Fox4 pre-empted Dr. Oz and TMZ Live. NBC5 dropped Steve Harvey and Ellen. Gannett8 wiped out The Insider, Inside Edition and two episodes of Family Feud. And CBS11 bailed on two episodes of Hot Bench plus Dr. Phil.

Here the total D-FW viewer averages for the respective stations.

2 to 3 P.M.
Fox4 -- 66,253
NBC5 -- 65,556
Gannett8 -- 50,562
CBS11 -- 43,413

3 to 4 P.M.
NBC5 -- 115,071
Fox4 -- 106,702
CBS11 -- 87,872
Gannett8 -- 81,995

The conventional wisdom is that stations do these kinds of things for ratings. But no commercials aired during the sustained coverage, meaning no money came in from the usual ad breaks. More to the point, when one station fires up a car chase it’s difficult for the others not to join in under the guise of performing a public safety service. And once you’re in, how do you get out? News consultants are clear to this: cut to the car chase and stay with it. Otherwise never ever scrimp on the weather.

It would be refreshing if just one D-FW station had ceased and desisted Wednesday before telling its viewers why on subsequent newscasts. Something on the order of, “We didn’t consider this particularly newsworthy and didn’t want to interrupt your regular programming to call attention to this guy. We hope you’ll understand.” I’m betting their switchboards would be flooded -- with compliments. And viewers still could have seen videotape of both the climax and the traffic snarls this bozo caused.

For the record, Thursday’s edition of The Dallas Morning News didn’t give the chase the top-of-the-front page treatment it received for two-plus hours on D-FW’s four major TV news providers. The story appeared at the top of Page 4B of the Metro section. An accompanying picture, provided by the newspaper’s content sharing pal, NBC5, was bigger than the printed text wrapped around it.

It should be noted that all four stations had large overall audiences for the chase than for Tuesday’s regular 2 to 4 p.m. blocks of entertainment programming. And the heavy post-chase coverage upped the day-to-day audience levels for regularly scheduled 4 p.m. newscasts on NBC5, Gannett8 and CBS11. So that at least was an ancillary benefit.

In Wednesday’s ho-hum prime time Nielsen ratings, CBS’ 7 p.m. episode of The Briefcase and Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast tied for the most total viewers with 244,090. Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, Fox’s 7 p.m. episode of Masterchef easily topped all prime-time programming with 119,844 viewers.

Here are Wednesday’s four-way local news derby results.

Gannett8 won in total viewers at 10 p.m. while Fox4 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and added a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. NBC5 collected the other golds, drawing the most total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. and also placing first at 5 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Tues., May 22-26) -- Talent returns on top

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
The latest season premiere of NBC’s America’s Got Talent picked up where The Voice left off. It drew prime-time’s biggest overall audience Tuesday, with 306,856 D-FW viewers in the 7 to 9 p.m. slot.

Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast then took over, winning that hour with 251,064 viewers. Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, Talent ruled the first two hours of prime-time with 100,922 viewers before Fox4’s 9 p.m. news fared even better with 107,229 viewers.

Fox’s 7 p.m. return of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? performed nicely with 209,220 total viewers and 72,537 in the 18-to-49 age range. The 9 p.m. premiere of NBC’s I Can Do that, benefitting from the AGT lead-in, got off to a solid start with 202,246 total viewers and 97,768 in the 18-to-49 realm.

On Memorial Day, NBC’s two-hour return of American Ninja Warrior topped all prime-time attractions with 251,064 total viewers while also ringing the bell big-time among 18-to-49-year-olds (far and away the day’s biggest haul with 135,613).

NBC’s 9 p.m. launch of The Island with Bear Grylls ran second in its time slot with 153,428 total viewers (behind Fox4’s news) but won that hour among 18-to-49-year-olds (75,691).

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the mid-afternoon/early evening return of Josh Hamilton to the resurgent Texas Rangers made for a season-high mark of 181,324 total viewers and 78,845 in the 18-to-49 motherlode.

Sunday’s closing round of the Colonial golf tournament on CBS, with Dallas native Jordan Spieth finishing just one stroke behind, averaged 153,428 total viewers. That wasn’t quite enough to outdraw ABC’s Indy 500 coverage, which had 167,376 total viewers. Another run around the oval, Fox’s prime-time NASCAR Sprint Cup race, drew 125,532 total viewers.

Here are the local news derby results, with all four major combatants taking Memorial Day holiday exemptions.

Friday -- Gannett8 swept the 10 p.m. competitions with wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 ran the table at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. golds went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Tuesday -- Fox4 ran first in both ratings measurements at both 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

NBC5 had twin wins at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. gold in total viewers. Fox4 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 6 p.m.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Fox4 scores big first and CBS11 has major moral "victory" in D-FW's May "sweeps" newscast ratings

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Veteran anchors Clarice Tinsley of Fox4 and Karen Borta of CBS11.

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Two stations made ratings history for themselves, both at the expense of the same competitor, in final results for D-FW’s May “sweeps” newscast competitions.

For the first time since the July 1995 switchover from CBS affiliation, Fox4 topped the 10 p.m. field in the key 25-to-54-year-old demographic (main advertiser target audience for news programming). The margin of victory was exceedingly slim over Gannett8, with three decimal points needed to break a first-place tie.

We’ve been using the three decimal system throughout our “sweeps” ratings reports to determine which station actually had the most viewers. In this case, Fox4 ended with a 2.739 rating (81,168 viewers in the 25-to-54 measurement) while Gannett8 had a 2.736 rating (81,079 viewers).

In the 6 a.m. competitions, CBS11 moved out of fourth place for the first time in its history by ranking third among 25-to-54-year-olds. The victim again was Gannett8, with CBS11 prevailing by a score of 25,693 viewers to 23,559.

In the four major four-way competitions at 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m., Fox4 had the most wins with four in the total viewers and 25-to-54 measurements. NBC5 logged two first-place finishes and Gannett8 and CBS11 had one apiece.

The “sweeps” sweeps came at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., with Fox4 and NBC5 respectively winning both ratings battles. Gannett8 kept its 10 p.m. championship in total viewers after also topping the field in May 2014. CBS11 vaulted ahead of NBC5 to win at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Also of note: Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast, squaring off against network entertainment programming on ABC, CBS and NBC, had more total viewers than any of them while also winning by a more comfortable margin with 18-to-49-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for entertainment programming). The ongoing inclement weather didn’t hurt, with all of the local newscasts going super weather-centric down the homestretch of the “sweeps.” Still, this is quite an achievement, even if bad weather invariably means more viewers.

Here are the complete May 2015 sweeps results in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds. Audience gains or losses from May 2014 are in parentheses. Source: Nielsen Media Research.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
Gannett8 -- 209,638 (plus 35,159)
CBS11 -- 180,975 (plus 19,989)
NBC5 -- 168,143 (plus 25,052)
Fox4 -- 145,059 (plus 21,354)

25-to-54-Year-Olds
Fox4 -- 81,168 (plus 12,674)
Gannett8 -- 81,079 (plus 9,081)
NBC5 -- 69,936 (plus 1,899)
CBS11 -- 40,154 (plus 3,591)

Comments: Consider this. In May 2014, NBC5 was the only station to show year-to-year audience gains. This time around, all four stations were up in both ratings measurements. Why? The weather. It’s still a viewer magnet, which is why local forecasters have replaced news anchors as go-to MVPs on many a night. Not that it has to rain or blow very hard to get them down to their shirtsleeves. A shower and a wind gust in Palo Pinto will do just fine.

Fox4’s 10 p.m. news is solo-anchored by the dean of D-FW news anchors, Clarice Tinsley. She long has vowed to stay on the air forever and a day. The station’s first-ever win at this hour among 25-to-54-year-olds certainly won’t hurt her standing. But in reality, meteorologist Dan Henry and the station’s reporters in the field were the principal playmakers during May’s many stormy nights.

Fox4’s 10 p.m. news also was aided by the lead-in power of the station’s 9 p.m. newscast, which particularly excelled among 18-to-49-year-olds and 25-to-54-year-olds. In contrast, the 9 to 10 p.m. CBS network programming ran fourth in both of those key demographics.

Fox4 still has a problem in the total viewers realm, where it ran a distant last despite gaining more than 21,000 viewers from last May. Gannett8’s last reliable port in the storm is its 10 p.m. news, which won comfortably in total viewers and lost by a sub-tiny margin in the 25-to-54 measurement.

CBS11 continues to be all but comatose among 25-to-54-year-olds, where its total was less than half the hauls of both Fox4 and Gannett8.

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 103,076 (minus 19,563)
NBC5 -- 88,849 (minus 22,357)
Gannett8 -- 66,881 (minus 14,571)
CBS11 -- 55,374 (minus 6,265)

25-to-54-Year-Olds
Fox4 -- 56,482 (minus 20,544)
NBC5 -- 36,717 (minus 14,877)
CBS11 -- 25,693 (plus 2,384)
Gannett8 -- 23,559 (minus 14,801)

Comments: Once a prime growth area, the 6 a.m. news numbers took an overall major hit, with only CBS11 registering any year-to-year audience gain while Fox4 bled viewers in both measurements while still managing to win by comfy margins.

CBS11’s slow rise in the 25-to-54 demographic began kicking in when former longtime P.M. anchor Karen Borta joined the early shift in January. She and meteorologist Scott Padgett have been the only constants this year, with a new male co-anchor and younger blonde traffic reporter due to arrive in early June.

Gannett8, which bills its early A.M. news as “The Official Show of Morning People,” instead laid an ostrich-sized breakfast egg with the coveted 25-to-54-year-old audience. Long dormant CBS11 ran better than last in the mornings for the first time in the station’s history by outdrawing Gannett8 in this measurement. So while CBS11 nonetheless continues to shuffle its deck, Gannett8 must decide whether a different mix and approach are needed when the new TV season begins in September. If this wasn’t a wake-up call, then nothing will be.

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 161,518 (plus 33,482)
NBC5 -- 143,385 (minus 3,967)
Gannett8 -- 141,781 (plus 25,959)
Fox4 -- 125,253 (plus 7,441)

25-to-54-Year-Olds
Fox4 -- 53,845 (minus 938)
NBC5 -- 49,459 (plus 1,775)
Gannett8 -- 40,243 (minus 2,441)
CBS11 -- 30,938 (plus 7,264)

Comments: Fox4 and CBS11 shared teeter totter rides by finishing first in one measurement and last in the other. But CBS11 made the best overall year-to-year improvements in both barometers while dethroning last May’s total viewers champ, NBC5.

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
NBC5 -- 141,154 (plus 8,573)
Fox4 -- 116,815 (minus 1,209)
Gannett8 -- 111,096 (plus 24,531)
CBS11 -- 102,867 (minus 1,096)

25-to-54-Year-Olds
NBC5 -- 49,459 (plus 14,542)
Fox4 -- 43,503 (minus 1,865)
Gannett8 -- 29,667 (plus 2,976)
CBS11 -- 23,352 (plus 896)

Comments: NBC5 has the clear bragging rights here, retaining its total viewers crown from last May while dethroning Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds. Although finishing third in both competitions, Gannett8 improved its standing with year-to-year gains. Fox4 in contrast was the only station to lose viewers in each measurement, but the declines were minimal.

IN OTHER RATINGS OF NOTE:

***NBC5’s 4 p.m. newscast ran first in both ratings measurements in a three-way battle with Gannett8 and CBS11. The runners-up in the news division were CBS11 in total viewers and Gannett8 among 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4, which offers a double dose of Judge Judy from 4 to 5 p.m., ran second in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, beating the newscasts on Gannett8 and CBS11.

***Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast bludgeoned CW33’s anchor-less NewsFix at that hour. In total viewers the score was 186,624 to 15,901. Among 25-to-54-year-olds, Fox4 had 85,405 viewers to NewsFix’s 9,661.

***Wheel of Fortune kept rolling at 6:30 p.m. on CBS11, drawing twice as many total viewers (258,038) as any of the three competing entertainment rag mags while also winning by lesser margins with both 25-to-54-year-olds and 18-to-49-year-olds. Gannett8, then owned by Belo, is still paying for willingly coughing up Wheel a decade ago in order to draw a younger audience with Entertainment Tonight. In the May “sweeps” ratings, ET ran fourth in its time period with both 18-to-49-year-olds and 25-to-54-year-olds.

***The NBC Nightly News without Brian Williams and with Lester Holt won in total viewers at 5:30 p.m. opposite ABC’s World News, CBS’ Evening News and Fox4’s local news. It was the same story with 25-to-54-year-olds.

***Fox4’s 7 to 9 a.m. portion of its homegrown Good Day likewise won a doubleheader, beating the three network morning shows in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Heading on an adventure -- and again leaving lots behind

Long-planned trips sometimes get in the way of best-laid plans. So your friendly content provider will be missing a few things -- including the Mad Men and David Letterman finales -- while away from this grindstone. Some of the networks’ new season announcements, which continue this week, also will have to wait until after Memorial Day. As will the results of the May “sweeps” D-FW newscast wars.

But hey, I’ve left plenty behind, including reviews of the following (with links).

Wayward Pines (Fox) -- Thursday, May 14th.

Bessie (HBO) -- Saturday, May 16th.

Texas Rising (History network) -- Monday, May 25th.

Grace and Frankie (Netflix) -- newly streaming.

You also can find our compendium of vintage David Letterman articles on the Back Channels page. Individual links were posted earlier on Above the Fold.

See you soon and thanks for your continued readership!
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., May 8-10) -- NBC5's split-screen golf/weather coverage infuriates some but still delivers the numbers

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
My Twitter feed became awash Sunday with people complaining about NBC5 offering split-screen coverage of the final holes of a gripping Players Championship golf tournament and a live rescue of two guys standing on a flood water-engulfed pickup truck.

NBC’s golf coverage got the silent treatment and a much smaller on-screen picture. Still, it was visible to viewers, although certainly not in an optimum way. The D-FW Nielsen ratings nonetheless show that NBC5 remained the runaway station of choice in the early evening opposite more conventional storm coverage on rival stations.

The ratings peaked between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m., when NBC5 drew 439,362 viewers. The station ended up easily winning every 15-minute increment from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m.

Regular network programming kicked back in on all four major TV news providers by 8 p.m., although commercial breaks often were filled by weather updates. CBS’ The Good Wife had the most total viewers in the 8 p.m. hour with 251,064. Fox4’s local 9 p.m. newscast then took over in a big way, dominating its hour with 362,648 viewers. Fox4’s news also crushed the opposition among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

On ABC, the 9 p.m. series finale of Revenge ran third in its time slot with 111,584 total viewers and moved up to a very distant second place with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Friday’s prime-time top draws were CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 in total viewers (181,324) and CBS’ The Amazing Race in the 18-to-49 demographic (72,537).

Here are Friday’s local news derby results for the 12th weekday of the May “sweeps,” which end on May 20th.

Gannett8 edged CBS11 for the most total viewers at 10 p.m., but NBC5 won among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. competitions, added a doubleheader win at 5 p.m. and had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 6 p.m. CBS11 won in total viewers at 6 p.m.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net