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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Thurs., Aug. 27-28) -- dominant, deficient Cowboys

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Still a broken toy on the field, the Dallas Cowboys wrapped up their winless pre-season with another easy win on the D-FW ratings charts.

The 27-3 Game 4 home loss to Denver, which ran from 7:07 to 9:53 p.m. on CBS11, averaged 468,686 viewers in edging Game 1’s 454,483 viewers. The Game 3 “dress rehearsal” topped the local charts this month with 603,611 viewers while Game 2 took the runner-up spot with 536,858.

Thursday’s Cowboys-Broncos game, which left Dallas with zero wins in the pre-season for the first time since 2000, drew 136,781 viewers in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-old demographic. All four games scored well under 50 percent in this key audience measurement. That’s a trend worth watching when the Cowboys’ regular season kicks off on Sept. 7th with a home game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Thursday’s biggest draw opposite the Cowboys, an 8 p.m. edition of Big Brother, had 113,621 total viewers and 71,647 in the 18-to-49 range. CBS’ most dependable summertime draw was re-routed to CBS11’s sister station, TXA21, along with Two and a Half Men, The Millers and Elementary.

On Fox Sports Southwest, the Texas Rangers remained all but dead and buried opposite the Cowboys game. The last-place team’s 4-2 road loss to the Astros had 63,912 total viewers with just 9,770 in the 18-to-49 motherlode. It’s been a very disappointing year for the injury-riddled Rangers, both on the field and at the local ratings box office.

Texas A&M’s dominant upset win over South Carolina on the brand new SEC network likely drew more viewers than the Rangers. But the network isn’t being rated in its inaugural football season, so it’s pretty much anyone’s guess right now.

Wednesday’s prime-time Nielsens were paced by NBC’s 8 p.m. episode of America’s Got Talent, which pulled in 241,444 total viewers. But the demographic darling again was Big Brother, whose 7 p.m. hour ranked a dominant No. 1 with 18-to-49-year-olds (100,958) while AGT dipped to 58,621.

Here are the local news derby results.

Wednesday -- Fox4 won at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming). The station added a 6 a.m. sweep and also had the most total viewers at 5 p.m.

CBS11 won in total viewers at 6 p.m. while Gannett8 ranked No. 1 with 25-to-54-year-olds. NBC5 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 5 p.m.

Thursday -- Gannett8 ran the table at 10 p.m. and Fox4 again did likewise at 6 a.m.

NBC5 scored a doubleheader win at 6 p.m. while also drawing the most total viewers at 5 p.m. The Peacock and Gannett8 tied for the 25-to-54 gold at 5 p.m.

It was a three-way competition at 6 p.m., with CBS11 airing its one-hour Countdown to Kickoff Cowboys special. It won from 6:30 to 7 p.m. in both ratings measurements, but the first half-hour ran third in total viewers and second among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

So long "Spirit of Texas," hello Gannett8

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Anchors Jason Wheeler and Shelly Slater tout Gannett-mandated new look during WFAA8’s Wednesday, 6 p.m. newscast. Photos: Ed Bark

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Dallas-based WFAA8, which will be re-christened Gannett8 later in this post, touted its new “Graphics” during Wednesday’s newscasts.

Like them or not, it marks a further homogenization of local newscasts around the country. That’s because the changes are mandated by WFAA8’s new owner, Gannett Company, Inc., which is implementing the same basic look on most if not all of its TV stations with newscasts. The latest total count of Gannett-owned stations is 46. That’s a lot of homogenization.

As you’ll see in the video at the bottom of this post, Gannett-owned WHAS-TV, the ABC affiliate station in Louisville, KY, touted identical graphics in a recent viewer preview. Gannett officially took ownership of WFAA8 and 20 other Belo stations late last year. Layoffs of some off-camera personnel quickly kicked in after Gannett got acclimated. The new graphics look, including a revamp of the wfaa.com website, is another big shoe dropping.

On Wednesday’s 6 p.m. newscast, anchors Jason Wheeler and Shelly Slater walked viewers through what he termed “the brand new look here at News 8.”

There’s a brief new opening visual that’s replicated throughout the country on Gannett stations before the local news logo is shown. But the biggest changes are bottom-of-the-screen alerts that inform viewers of what they’re watching -- via the dominant “Information Bar” -- and the next three stories in line. They’re all color-coded, Wheeler noted. He then elaborated.

Blue is for news.
Yellow is for weather.
Bright red is for breaking news.
Dark red is for sports.
Purple is for “life” stories.
Green is for money.
Orange is for technology.

“You’ll learn it as we go,” Wheeler added before Slater quipped, “Kind of all-new looks all around. I feel like I need to dye my hair blonde or something to fit all the changes.”

Weathercaster Ashton Altieri then joined in, telling viewers that his forecasts now will be 20 percent more accurate.

After he finished, Slater asked sports anchor Dale Hansen, “Are you going to be 20 percent nicer?”

“Nah, there’s no chance of that,” he assured her.

photo Image 1
Gannett-owned news stations begin with graphic on the left before customizing a bit (right) using the same basic blue-hued visual.

WFAA8’s new look is taking a beating on the station’s Facebook page, although it should be noted that change is not always welcome at first sight.

It can be perilous, though, to alert viewers to what’s coming next. Those who are turned off by the subject matter might well be tempted to switch somewhere else. More on-screen clutter can also be a detriment.

It remains to be seen whether the Gannett-mandated new look will affect other ways in which WFAA8 promotes and presents itself. Under Belo ownership, the station had some of the most distinctive promo campaigns in recent years, including the Boston Legal-style spots featuring Hansen and weathercaster Pete Delkus, and the comedy campaign launching Ron Corning as the new co-anchor of Daybreak.

NBC-owned NBC5 was briefly shackled in 2009 by its network’s cost-cutting, one-size-fits-all local promotions before all concerned seemed to wise up and see what a disaster it was. The station currently has a homegrown campaign with the slogan “Texas Connects Us.”

One more thing: WFAA8 management used to complain about being called Belo8 during the early years of unclebarky.com. So it was changed to WFAA8 while rivals Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 are still identified by the network ownerships they prefer.

But now that WFAA8 is fully locked and loaded with Gannett, it seems time to make another change. So from here on forward, it’s no longer WFAA8 in these spaces. It’s Gannett8.

Here’s the WHAS-TV graphics video as further evidence of Gannett’s latest local news footprint:



Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Aug. 26) -- a super-rare double grand slam for Fox4 news

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
WFAA8 used to be the only D-FW station capable of doing this. In fact, it had three double grand-slams in January 2008 alone, the last on Jan. 28th of that year.

Fox4 and NBC5 now are the most likely to accomplish such a rare feat -- a sweep of the 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscast ratings in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming). And on Tuesday, Aug. 26th, Fox4 finally turned this trick with wins across the board.

It’s become an exceedingly difficult mountain to climb. And I can’t remember it happening at all in the past six-and-a-half years. Once the news spreads, Fox4 management should be laying out an ice cream sundae spread for the entire on- and off-camera news staff. Or maybe a pre-Labor Day grilled hot dog/tofu extravaganza? Hey, your friendly content provider can only do so much at this end.

Here’s how it looked on Tuesday, with the runner-up station’s viewer totals also listed.

10 p.m.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 165,461
NBC5 -- 144,156

25-to-54-Year-Olds
Fox4 -- 98,110
NBC5 -- 74,649

6 a.m.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 134,925
NBC5 -- 101,549

25-to-54-Year-Olds
Fox4 -- 63,680
NBC5 -- 48,141

5 p.m.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 158,359
NBC5 -- 132,084

25-to-54-Year-Olds
Fox4 -- 55,758
NBC5 -- 28,031 (WFAA8 was barely behind NBC5 with 27,727)

6 p.m.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 151,968
NBC5 -- 135,635

25-to-54-Year-Olds
Fox4 -- 60,329
NBC5 -- 32,907

In prime-time, NBC’s 8 to 10 p.m. edition of America’s Got Talent was the overall top draw with 255,647 viewers. AGT also lead all comers among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for entertainment programming). The haul was 78,161 viewers in this key demographic.

(In case you’re wondering, the 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts on Fox4 also ranked No. 1 with 18-to-49-year-olds.)

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers again toiled in late night hours on Fox Sports Southwest. The team’s latest loss, 5-0 at Seattle, drew just 49,709 total viewers, with 13,027 in the 18-to-49 age range.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

CBS11 anchor/reporter Tracy Kornet leaving after eight-year stay

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By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
CBS11 anchor Tracy Kornet, an eight-year veteran in the D-FW market, has decided to leave the station.

Kornet’s scheduled last day is Sept. 5th. “She is going to Nashville to be closer to her family,” CBS11 director of communications Lori Conrad confirmed Tuesday.

Kornet so far has not returned messages asking for further comment. She arrived here in 2006, initially to anchor the now defunct “News First in Prime” on CBS11’s sister station, TXA21. Kornet since has co-anchored CBS11’s weekday 4 p.m. newscasts and filled in on the 5, 6 and 10 news programs.

Kornet also is a vocalist who has fronted several area bands. She and her husband Frank Kornet, a former Milwaukee Bucks forward, have two sons and a daughter, who all have played or are playing college basketball.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 25) -- Emmys in a walk

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
The first prime-time Emmys on a Monday since 1976 had more than enough punch to dominate from start to stop.

Hosted by Seth Meyers and running precisely on time from 7 to 10 p.m., the NBC telecast averaged 440,281 D-FW viewers with a peak crowd of 482,888 between 8 and 8:15 p.m.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, Emmy averaged 198,659 viewers, hitting a high of 221,456 between 7:45 and 8 p.m.

Emmy’s closest challenger in total viewers was CBS’ 9 p.m. episode of Under the Dome (198,836). Dome also ran second for the night with 18-to-49-year-olds (71,647).

NOTE TO READERS: I have a cnn.com commentary on the Emmys -- and you can find it right here.

Over on TNT, a new 8 p.m. episode of Dallas drew 120,722 total viewers and 35,824 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Here are Monday’s local news derby numbers.

NBC5 capitalized on its big Emmy lead-in advantage to cruise at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 again topped the 6 a.m. competitions while all four waker-uppers breathlessly recounted the first day back at school for most of the viewing area’s kids.

NBC5 swept the 6 p.m. competitions; at 5 p.m., Fox4 had the most total viewers while tying WFAA8 for the top spot among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net