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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Thurs., Feb. 14-15) -- Winter Olympics twofer

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
NBC’s Winter Olympics telecasts continue to dominate all prime-time programming, but with some ups and downs from 2014.

Wednesday’s coverage from Pyeongchang, which rain until 10:37 p.m., averaged 448,692 D-FW viewers and 187,236 in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Four years ago on the equivalent Wednesday, the Winter Games from Sochi pulled in a smaller overall audience of 426,078 viewers. Your friendly content provider didn’t compute the entire 18-to-49 average on that night, but did note that the 7 to 8 p.m. hour of the Olympics lost to Fox’s American Idol in this key demographic by a score of 166,092 viewers to 153,065.

NBC otherwise took a big hit on Thursday night, when its Olympics block ran into only 10:04 p.m. and finally allowed NBC5 to “count” its local 10 p.m. newscast in direct competition against Fox4, TEGNA8 and CBS11.

The Olympics averaged 413,082 total viewers, way down from the 518,395 for 2014’s equivalent Thursday. The coverage also took a big dip among 18-to-49-year-olds, with an average of 134,186 viewers compared to 224,712 in 2014.

Wednesday night’s most-watched competing program against the Olympics, Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast, averaged a nice-sized 242,151 total viewers in bettering its average audience on most nights. Fox4’s news likewise was the runner-up among 18-to-49-year-olds with 62,412 viewers.

In Thursday’s prime-time ratings, Fox4’s 9 p.m. newscast also was second-best in total viewers with 166,657, edging CBS’ 7 p.m. rerun of The Big Bang Theory (163,096). Fox4’s news had the 18-to-49 runner-up to itself with 46,809 viewers.

Here are the four-way local news derby results.

Wednesday -- Fox4 had a big day and night, winning at 6 a.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming). The 5 p.m. golds went to NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Thursday -- It was the Peacock’s turn to crow with sweeps at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Fox4 remained in full command at 6 a.m., where it hasn’t lost all winter.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Figure skating not a sport? Cue the Twitter bloodsport (updated)

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Sport or not a sport? Or is that just a stupid question? Photo: Ed Bark

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
No Winter Olympics competition gets more prime-time coverage than figure skating, which has been a staple of these Games since 1924.

Still, a dwindling few continue to say it’s not even a sport, despite all the obvious athleticism on display. Let’s get the dean of D-FW sports anchors out of the way first. Mainly because TEGNA8’s Dale Hansen has long had no interest in the entirety of the Winter Olympics. Or as he put it last Wednesday in one of his mini-commentaries for Daybreak, “I’m really glad the Olympics aren’t on ABC and Channel 8. Because now I don’t have to act like I care -- because I don’t.”

As for figure skating specifically, “It’s a nice event,” Hansen says. “It takes some skill. But then so does Dancing with the Stars, and that’s not a sport either . . . When your hair and makeup count and whether you smile or not impacts your score, that’s not a sport.”

But that’s Dale. And he could care less that the great majority of commenters on TEGNA8’s Facebook page disagree with him while also calling for his retirement.

Hansen is a stranger to a real blood sport -- Twitter. Members of TEGNA8’s digital team occasionally tweet in his name on an @dalehansen account. Dale himself has less interest in Twitter than even the Winter Olympics.

But there’s a relatively new naysayer in town -- Fox4 sports reporter/anchor and avid Tweeter Edward Egros. He perhaps should have stuck his tongue out in close proximity to an icy pole rather than tweet the following: “I have the utmost respect for figure skaters. Only a few people in the universe can do it and they deserve my praise. But it’s not a sport.”

Your friendly content provider tweeted in response: “Not a sport?! Really?! Then neither are snowboarding, moguls, speed skating. Let’s call the whole thing off.”

On the contrary, Egros replied, “Those sports have quantifiable metrics that determine a winner. Figure skating is too subjective to have such things, so it’s an art form, not a sport. Still, figure skating is really hard.”

Egros initially had enthusiastically agreed -- “THANK YOU!” -- with a Tweeter (named “Chubby Ex-Slob”) who said that “if you need to pick a song as part of your sport, I’m not going to respect your sport. I respect your art.”

Uh-oh, that would leave out the floor exercise portion of gymnastics, in which competitors choose their own accompanying music. And if you want to talk about “subjective” judges, then let’s entirely rule out gymnastics as well as boxing, diving and even the NFL with its controversial, outcome-altering Catch or No Catch rulings. Super Bowl LII, for instance. Both Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth were certain that TD catches by the Philadelphia Eagles’ Corey Clement and Zach Ertz would be overturned upon further review. But they weren’t.

Meanwhile, my Twitter thread had already been strung out by numerous and sometimes very pointed responses to Egros’ stance on figure skating. Let’s just say that his supporters were -- charitably speaking -- very few and far between. And his adversaries on Twitter eventually included several Olympic figure skaters.

But I wondered what some of Egros’ D-FW television sports peers might think. NBC5’s Newy Scruggs, Fox4’s Mike Doocy, TEGNA8’s Mike Leslie, the NFL Network’s Dallas-based Jane Slater and CBS11’s Bill Jones were all solicited via Twitter. Chuck Cooperstein, radio voice of the Dallas Mavericks, and Dallas Cowboys chronicler Mike Fisher also later joined in. Among them, only Cooperstein very adamantly contends that figure skating is not a sport. Here are their views:

Doocy -- “I think it’s a sport. But I see Ed’s (Egros) point about the subjectivity in the judging. More random than in most competitions. But to me, a competition involving this level of athleticism means it’s a sport. Then again, at my age, just getting out of bed in the morning is a sport.”

Slater -- “Uh . . . figure skating is a sport.” And later, “Pure athleticism and finesse. Hockey athleticism and finesse.”

Scruggs -- “Figure skating is a sport. Most of us can’t skate much less skate a routine jumping up and down on an ice rink.”

Jones -- Yes, it’s a sport! Incredible athleticism. This from someone who can’t roller skate, much less ice skate!”

Leslie -- “I’m not sure why ‘artform’ & ‘sport’ have to be mutually exclusive things. Just look at Le’Veon Bell run the ball. Or magic run the break. Those are definitely both. So figure skating can easily be both, as well.” And later, “Hell, there’s subjectivity in judging in boxing, too. Does that get disqualified, too?”

Doocy -- “Decent point. But then boxing always provides an opportunity for one competitor to leave no doubt about the outcome.” To which Leslie responded with the tweet of the night on this subject: Above a GIF of Tonya Harding blowing a kiss, he asked, “You can’t score a knockout in figure skating?”

Cooperstein -- Figure skating most certainly is NOT a sport. It IS an athletic endeavor. Anything that does not allow an objective outcome is NOT a sport. Diving. Gymnastics. X game activity at the Winter Olympics. All (are also) athletic endeavors. None are sports . . . I’m not sure why this is such a hard concept . . . I can’t help you if you can’t see the difference.”

Fisher -- “I decided a long time ago that the participant was the one who got to decide, not Edward Egros (while) reclining in his La-Z-Boy. Bobby Fischer’s (chess) competitions were televised on ‘Wide World of Sports.’ Good enough for me.”

Egros gamely took a lot of punches, on my Twitter feed and even more so on his own separate feed. His only complaint -- and very rightly so -- was that some naysayers labeled him homophobic or sexist. Which is both stupid and ridiculous on their part.

NBC5 video journalist Tim Ciesco also weighed in, reasonably, with an observation that “each of their skates has required components -- and each jump/element receives a pre-determined base score. How well they execute it can add or subtract from their final tally. But I don’t think it’s more or less subjective than snowboarding.”

Egros didn’t buy this either. “All of the choreography during jumps, when to do said jumps rhythmically, that’s subjective and too easily swayed by judge bias,” he tweeted. “It’s an art, not a sport. There are awards handed out in art.”

The storm has pretty much subsided at this point. Egros would argue that he gave as good as he got. I’d say that responders scored at least a technical knockout. Whatever the case, his bosses should be happy because Egros was “trending” both locally and not nationally on Twitter. “Social media” prowess isn’t a mere sport. It’s increasingly a necessity if you want to survive in today’s local TV news world.

Meanwhile, figure skating resumes in prime-time tonight.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 13) -- chairman of the board: White's climactic gold medal run lights up Day 6 of Olympics

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Snowboarding legend Shaun White saved his best run for last Tuesday, winning his third Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe with a gasp-worthy, do or die final ride.

D-FW’s Winter Olympics ratings spiked accordingly, peaking at 697,966 viewers between 9 and 9:15 p.m., when White made the run and then waited to see if it was deemed good enough. If not, he would have won the silver, finishing second to Japan’s Ayumo Hirano.

Tuesday night’s NBC coverage of Day 6 from Pyeongchang stretched all the way to 10:43 p.m., with the ratings markedly deflating during live coverage of the pairs figure skating competition, in which the U.S. has no chance to win a medal. From 10:30 to 10:45 p.m., the audience drooped to a low of 320,495 viewers after steadily declining from 9:15 p.m. onward.

Overall, the Olympics averaged 505,669 viewers Tuesday night, with 199,718 in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. That’s down from 553,901 total viewers and 267,049 in the 18-to-49 age range for the equivalent Night 6 of the 2014 Winter Games from Sochi.

Among competing programs, Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast and CBS’ 7 p.m. repeat of NCIS tied for the distant runner-up spot in total viewers with 185,175 apiece. Fox4’s news had second place to itself among 18-to-49ers with 43,688.

And now for Tuesday’s local news derby results.

NBC5’s 10 p.m. news again was pushed deeper into the night, leaving TEGNA8 to win a three-way race in total viewers while Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 remained unbeaten this winter at 6 a.m., logging another sweep. The Peacock then crowed a quartet of times in the early evening, scoring twin wins at both 5 and 6 p.m.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Feb. 12) -- on board with the Olympics

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Live coverage of two U.S. snowboarding stars consumed much of NBC’s Winter Olympics package Monday night.

Superstar teen Chloe Kim resoundingly won a gold while the now grizzled Shaun White put himself in a strong position to do the same with a dominating qualifying performance leading into Tuesday’s final. D-FW viewers responded in almost equal numbers from four years ago.

The Peacock’s extended 7 to 10:35 p.m. offering drew 512,791 viewers, barely down from the 518,395 for the equivalent Monday night in 2014. There was a more significant drop among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old viewers, from 237,739 four years ago in Sochi to 199,718 for the competition from Pyeongchang.

Let’s again note that big improvements in streaming and an escalation in “cord cutters” mean that more Olympics watchers are choosing that option rather than conventional TV viewing. Even so, Monday night’s Olympics again crushed all competing programming. CBS’ 7 p.m. hour of Big Brother: Celebrity Edition was the runner-up in both total viewers (185,175) and with 18-to-49-year-olds (62,412).

Here are Monday’s local news derby results.

A downsized three-way competition at 10 p.m. was paced by TEGNA8 in both total viewers and among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 as usual swept the 6 a.m. races while the 6 p.m. golds were split between TEGNA8 in total viewers and NBC5 in the 25-to-54 realm. At 5 p.m., the Peacock won in total viewers and Fox4 had the edge with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

A dig at the old Texas Stadium recaptured from way back in 1969

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Nearly a half-century ago, Dallas Cowboys owner Clint Murchison, Jr., assisted by quarterback Dan Meredith, were on hand for the first dirt diggings of what would become Texas Stadium.

The team hadn’t yet won a Super Bowl, but would win five during Texas Stadium’s existence from 1971 though the 2008 season. Jerry Jones then had it imploded on April 11, 2010, and unclebarky.com provided a big blowout on that day.

Thanks to ongoing preservation efforts by SMU’s G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, a wealth of WFAA-TV’s vintage filmed footage is being resuscitated. So enjoy this one minute, 35 second look at the 1969 festivities at what emerged as the legendary stadium with the hole in the roof.

There’s no sound at first, but ample audio in due time. Also, look for an inventive sight gag and a one-liner from Meredith that gets the intended laughs. Then came the bulldozers. Back then, mere shovels apparently were deemed too puny for “America’s Team.”



Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net