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Cuban's investment in Rentrak may give WFAA8 additional ammo in its ratings skirmish with Nielsen


Dallas Mavericks/HDNet owner Mark Cuban will be a Shark Tank regular when the show returns with new episodes later this season. ABC photo

WFAA8's concerted push for the new, alternative TV ratings system Rentrak has a notable booster in Mark Cuban.

The Dallas Mavericks/HDNet owner, who will be a regular on the ABC investor series Shark Tank this season, confirmed Tuesday that he has a financial stake in Rentrak -- and lately has upped the ante.

"I think they are the future of national and local audience measurement," Cuban said in an email to unclebarky.com. "And I increased my investment to 8.7 percent of the company. I have been an investor for four years, maybe longer."

As detailed in a July post, ABC affiliate WFAA8 has soured on Nielsen Media Research and so far is the lone North Texas TV station to embrace Rentrak as a more accurate barometer of TV viewership. WFAA8's ratings are much stronger, based on data from Rentrak's 900,000 set top boxes in homes subscribing to either the Dish satellite network or AT&T Uverse.

Nielsen in contrast reports D-FW ratings based on 600 viewing area homes equipped with its scientifically placed "People Meters."

WFAA8's network-owned rivals also generally see ratings increases with Rentrak, but not nearly to the degree that the Belo-owned ABC affiliate does.

In an earlier interview with unclebarky.com, WFAA8 president and general manager insisted that he's "not touting Rentrak simply because we look better. I want something that's stable, predictable and has a large enough (audience) sample . . . If the entire market were to convert to Rentrak and we dropped to No. 3, I would have more confidence that there's something wrong with the newscast than I would under the Nielsen sample."

Devlin reacted to Cuban's support of Rentrak with this one-liner Wednesday: "I would not bet against Mark Cuban when it comes to technology and investments."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs.-Mon., Sept. 22-26) -- Cowboys roll over all, Terra Nova hangs in, Playboy Club collapses


Dez Bryant makes key catch; add facemask penalty. Photo: Ed Bark

Fox's big two-hour premiere of its dinosaur-laden Terra Nova had no chance in D-FW against the Cardiac Cowboys Monday night. But it was pretty terra firma in competition with mere mortals.

The Cowboys' 18-16 win over the Redskins, highlighted by QB Tony Romo's gutty play with a busted rib, drew 833,214 viewers on ESPN and added another 575,799 for the TXA21 simulcast. That's a grand total of 1,409,013 viewers, better than Game 2's 1,274,329 on Fox but short of the season opening 1,648,317 on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

(Note: under the new Nielsen estimates, which went into effect Saturday, each rating point equals 67,741 total viewers, down from the previous year's 69,257. So the Cowboys are battling ratings deflation as well as opponents.)

Cowboys-Redskins also romped with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing 461,131 on ESPN and adding another 233,768 on TXA21. The game ran from 7:41 to 10:43 p.m., and these tabulations reflect that running time based on Nielsen measurements for each 15-minute increment.

In the non-Cowboys universe, Terra Nova opened with 250,642 total viewers in the 7 to 9 p.m. slot. That outdrew ABC's competing two-hour Dancing with the Stars performance edition (223,545 viewers) as well as CBS' 7 to 8 p.m. combo of How I Met Your Mother (243,868) and 2 Broke Girls (223,545). But CBS controlled the 8 to 9 p.m. hour with Two and a Half Men (467,413) and the Season 2 premiere of Mike & Molly (304,835).

In the 18-to 49 demographic, the CBS comedies ran the table, with Terra Nova in second and Dancing limping along to a distant third-place finish. NBC's 7 to 9 p.m. attraction, Sing-Off, came up empty all night among the Big Four broadcast networks.

The CW's new Hart of Dixie had just 54,193 total viewers for its 8 p.m. premiere but did manage to outdraw the second hour of Sing-Off in the 18-to-49 measurement.

ABC's Castle handily won at 9 p.m. with 298,060 total viewers while also dominating among 18-to-49-year-olds. NBC's second episode of The Playboy Club barely registered in fourth place with 67,741 total viewers. It also was clubbed in the 18-to-49 numbers.

The 10 p.m. local newscasts went into the teeth of the Cowboys game and predictably had diminished returns. WFAA8 won in total viewers with just 128,708 of 'em. But CBS11 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 edged Fox4 in total viewers at 6 a.m., with those finishes reversed in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for the top spot in total viewers at 6 p.m., with Fox4 claiming the 25-to-54 gold for itself.

NBC5 prevailed at 5 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Now let's look at some highlights from the other nights.


NBC's Sunday Night Football matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts dominated the prime-time Nielsens with 582,573 total viewers, nipping Fox's mid-afternoon/early evening Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears game (569,024 viewers) for the day's overall top draw. Both games also had the lion's share of 18-to-49-year-old viewers.

ABC's launch of its new Pan Am series ran second on both counts at 9 p.m., drawing 264,190 total viewers. In each case that was only a slight drop-off from ABC's preceding Desperate Housewives, which began its final season.


ABC had the day's biggest crowd with its afternoon matchup of Top 10 teams Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. It averaged 257,416 total viewers. The network's prime-time attraction, LSU vs. West Virginny, fell to 176,127 viewers but still easily won its time slot.


The Texas Rangers-Seattle Mariners game on TXA21 won the first two hour of prime-time in total viewers before CBS' season premiere of Blue Bloods edged the North Texas Nine in the 9 p.m. hour. But NBC's Dateline had the most 18-to-49-year-old viewers from 8 to 10 p.m.

The 7 p.m. premiere of CBS medical/supernatural A Gifted Man had mixed results. It ran second in total viewers, behind the Rangers, but dove into sixth place with 18-to-49-year-olds, where the Rangers, Fox's Kitchen Nightmares and The CW's Season 2 launch of Nikita ran one-two-three.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 logged a 10 p.m. win in total viewers while NBC5 took the 25-to-54 gold.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and WFAA8 had a big day in the early evening, running the table at both 5 and 6 p.m.


Fox's second night of The X Factor held steady from 7 to 9 p.m. with respectable but hardly imposing numbers. It averaged 332,434 total viewers on the last day of the old Nielsen measurements, running a solid second to CBS' one-hour season premiere of The Big Bang Theory and the network's launch of Person of Interest.

X Factor also fell a bit short with 18-to-49-year-olds, finishing second to Big Bang from 7 to 8 p.m. and losing to the season premiere of ABC's Grey's Anatomy in the 8 p.m. hour.

Grey's second hour and CBS' season premiere of The Mentalist tied for first in total viewers at 9 p.m. Grey's cruised with 18-to-49-year-olds, though.

The 9 p.m. opener of NBC's Prime Suspect ran fourth in both measurements on what amounted to another dismal night for the Peacock. At 8:30 p.m., NBC's premiere of Whitney likewise finished fourth across the board.

ABC's 7 p.m. premiere of its Charlie's Angels re-do came up fourth from 7 to 7:30 p.m. in total viewers before inching up to third in its second half-hour ahead of NBC's Parks & Recreation.

It was pretty much the same story among 18-to-49-year-olds, with one exception. CW's competing The Vampire Diaries eased ahead of Angels for the full hour. For ABC, that's not exactly a halo effect.

Finally, in Thursday's local news derby numbers, WFAA8 swept the 10 p.m. races while Fox4 scored twin wins at 6 a.m.

Fox4 added 25-to-54 victories at 5 and 6 p.m. while tying for first in total viewers at 5 p.m. with WFAA8 and CBS11. The latter station won at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Local news notes: WFAA8's Flanagan leaving while TXA21's newscast gets left behind in favor of sports

gina cflanagan_n

TXA21's Gina Miller and WFAA8's Chris Flanagan

Although he hasn't officially signed with his new station yet, WFAA8 management confirmed Monday that Chris Flanagan will be joining Cleveland's WEWS-TV as a featured nighttime news anchor.

Flanagan joined Dallas-based WFAA8 from a Des Moines, Iowa station in March of 2009 as the new co-anchor of the early morning Daybreak program. But after two years he was re-assigned to the 9 a.m. Good Morning Texas show, which he's been co-hosting with Amy Vanderoef.

Both WFAA8 and WEWS are ABC affiliate stations. Flanagan likely will remain with GMT through most of October, a WFAA8 spokesman said.

The subscription website newsblues.com first reported Flanagan's impending transition, saying he had to "wade through six months of focus groups to get the job."

***TXA21's "First in Prime" newscast, recently downsized to one hour of news and sports, soon will vanish entirely. The station instead will air a full hour of sports, The Fan with Gina Miller, from 7 to 8 p.m., CBS11/TXA21 director of communications Lori Conrad confirmed.

The start-up date for the new sports program will be on a still to be announced date in October, Conrad said. She also noted that anchors Keith Garvin and Tracy Kornet, along with weathercaster Jeff Jamison, will continue on CBS11's weekday 4 p.m. newscasts. All three had been featured on the nightly TXA21 news.

R.I.P. Jerry Haynes -- Jan. 31, 1927 to Sept. 26, 2011 (updated)


Jerry "Mr. Peppermint" Haynes and TV sidekick, Muffin. WFAA photo

Jerry Haynes, one of the last of the great local television kids' show hosts, died Monday at age 84 of complications tied to Parkinson's Disease, his former station, WFAA8, reported on its website.

He retired as the always jovial candy-striped character in April 1996. By Haynes' estimation, he had hosted more than 6,000 Peppermint Place episodes for WFAA8. The show premiered in March of 1961, was canceled in 1970 but returned in 1975 when the Federal Communications Commission pressured local stations to create and air more "worthwhile programming."

"I thought about going as long as possible, but gee, I'm 69 years old," Haynes told this writer at the time of his retirement. "It's time to go. Everything's amicable. Everything's cool."

Haynes also was a frequent presence in numerous stage, television and film productions but always considered Mr. Peppermint to be the role of his lifetime.

"I kind of am Mr. Peppermint," he said. "So I'd just be making something up if I said what I'm going to miss the most."

Haynes also reported live on WFAA8 shortly after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. His first-hand account was given to then station manager/news director Bob Walker, who died in 2009.

"I ran back as quick as I could," Haynes said in a 2008 interview quoted on wfaa.com. "I was 34 years old, so I was a sprinter (Enroute) I heard a lady say, 'Oh my Lord, they killed him!' "

Veteran WFAA8 production manager Jerry Cadigan worked with Haynes throughout most of Mr. Peppermint's second run. He first met Haynes as a kid in 1964 while on one of the station's studio tours, Cadigan said.

"I watched his show everyday and I was thrilled to meet my favorite television personality in person. He was kind, friendly, and had the biggest laugh and warmest smile I had ever seen."

In 1978, Cadigan became director of Peppermint Place. He called it "the best time I've had in television . . . Jerry Haynes is Mr. Peppermint. No one will ever be able to inhabit that role or recapture that magic because the two personalities are one and the same."

Cadigan said he last saw Haynes in March. "He called me with his signature greeting. 'Cadigan!' he would say, and I would respond 'Mr. P!' And we made our plans to have lunch. Even then the smile and warm personality remained evident."

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said in a statement Monday that Haynes "will always be a significant part of WFAA's history. "His professionalism and wonderful sense of humor set a tone in our community for generations of children who enjoyed Peppermint Place as well as the many other roles he played at WFAA. We cherish those memories and will miss our dear friend."

Haynes had a varied feature film and TV film resume. His first screen credit, other than Mr. Peppermint, was in the acclaimed 1981 made-for TV movie Crisis At Central High, in which he had a small part opposite Joanne Woodward. Haynes also had a scene with Sally Field in 1984's Places in the Heart, for which she won a best actress Oscar.

Other credits include multiple episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger, Dallas and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He worked all the way up until 2009, when he had a small part as "Stringerman" in the feature film Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach. It co-starred Seann William Scott of American Pie fame and Randy Quaid.


Haynes made his final TV appearance in May on CBS11. CBS11 photo

Haynes' last television appearance was on May 6th of this year, when he was profiled by one of WFAA8's competitors, CBS11.

Haynes told the station that he got the idea for his trademark candy-striped costume from The Music Man. The star of the film, Robert Preston, "had all those bright coats and hats, and it just came to me while driving down to work a couple of weeks before it was to begin," he said. "Why not call yourself Mr. Peppermint and have a red and white coat?"

He always had a self-deprecating sense of humor, both about himself and his bit parts in films. "I got a lot of feedback from kids," he told CBS11. "A little girl once said, 'I watch you every morning, Mr. Peppermint, but my mother is sick of you.' "

Haynes was born in Dallas, the fourth of five children, to Fred and Louise Schimelpfenig Haynes. He studied drama at SMU, where one of his classmates was the late Aaron Spelling, who went on to become the producer of numerous long-running TV hits, including The Love Boat, Charlie's Angels and Beverly Hills 90210.

Haynes' son, Gibby Haynes, has been the leader of the long-running alternative rock band, The Butthole Surfers. In a Rolling Stone interview published at the time of Haynes' retirement from Peppermint Place, Gibby praised his father for always supporting him.

Jerry, you were one of a kind, both as an entertainer and more importantly, as a father. Here's video of a 1996 WFAA8 story on Jerry and Gibby Haynes by reporter Jamie Tobias.

Should size matter? WFAA8 anchor-reporter Debbie Denmon charges the station with discrimination based on her weight

Debbie Denmon in wfaa.com photo

WFAA8 anchor-reporter Debbie Denmon, dissatisfied with her treatment by management, has filed a discrimination suit against the Dallas-based station.

Multiple informed sources, both outside and inside WFAA8, have confirmed that Denmon's complaint is not primarily on the basis of age, sex or gender. She instead contends that her weight is being held against her, specifically in regards to landing a weekday anchor position.

Denmon, who joined WFAA8 in October 2000 according to her station bio, has anchored weekend evening and late night newscasts since February 2010. Attempts to reach her for comment have been unsuccessful in the past week. She continues to work at the station. WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin and news director Michael Valentine also have not answered emails requesting a statement from the station. Plainly put, no one at the station will talk on the record.

Proceedings are ongoing, though. Several WFAA8 staffers, including sports anchor Dale Hansen, already have appeared at a deposition hearing after being summoned by the plaintiff. "There's been testimony going on for a couple of weeks," said one source.

Hansen in essence is Denmon's Exhibit A, according to sources. The outspoken sports anchor has gotten notably heavier during his three decades as WFAA8's main sports anchor. He regularly jokes about it on the air, calling himself an old, fat, white guy with thinning hair. Hansen also has referenced the various diets he's tried over the years, none of which have really taken hold. Denmon argues that he's been given special treatment while her weight is perceived as a detriment to job advancement by management. Hansen, 63, currently has two years remaining on his latest contract.

Matters reached a boiling point, according to sources, when Denmon applied for a weekday 5 p.m. anchor position, but was bypassed in favor of WFAA8 newsroom colleague Shelly Slater. She alleges that her weight became an issue in the matter, and that she was told to slim down.

All of D-FW's major television news providers have done umpteen miracle diet stories over the years. Meanwhile, some prominent anchors and reporters of long duration at their stations have grown visibly bulkier over the years. Some, such as former longtime NBC5 anchor Mike Snyder, used his personal blog on the station's website to chart his latter day effort to lose weight. It can be a very touchy subject in a business where on-air appearance is important while it's not uncommon for news directors to be plus-sized.

Sources say that WFAA8 still has a contractual clause requiring any claims of discrimination to eventually be resolved by mandatory binding arbitration rather than in a courtroom. It can be a lengthy process. Former WFAA8 anchor Scott Sams was forced to go the arbitration route after being dropped by the station in 2004. In January, 2007, an arbitrator ordered WFAA8 and its parent company, Belo Corp., to pay Sams $683,771 in back wages, damages and attorneys' fees. That's a sizable sum, but Belo said it represented just four percent of what Sams originally asked for. Both sides claimed victory.

Sams' dismissal from WFAA8 "was because of his religion, his age and the fact that he's a white guy," Sams' Dallas-based attorney, Hal Gillespie, said at the time.

Gillespie also represented CBS11 veteran reporter Bud Gillett in his July 2009 suit against the station. Gillett charged CBS11 with discrimination on the basis of his age, sex, race and national origin. He later dropped the suit and still works at the station.

Gillespie has not responded to an email asking whether he also is representing Denmon in her discrimination charge.

Earlier in her career at WFAA8, Denmon and Michael Rey co-anchored the station's weekday editions of Daybreak until they were supplanted in fall 2005 by the team of Justin Farmer and Jackie Hyland. The station since has had a carousel of male Daybreak anchors while also hiring current incumbent Cynthia Izaguirre to replace Hyland.

Denmon has remained at WFAA8 throughout that period. She had anchored weekend editions of Daybreak before being promoted to the more visible evening and latenight weekend newscasts. Her discrimination suit's focus on weight issues apparently is a first in this market.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Sept. 21) -- X Factor opens solidly but not spectacularly

Exultant over the boffo ratings for Tuesday's premiere of its new comedy New Girl, Fox came down to earth a bit with Wednesday's saturation-promoted, two-hour launch of Simon Cowell's The X Factor.

The splashy talent search managed to win its time slot with an average of 360,136 D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. But ABC's one-hour premiere of Modern Family was narrowly No. 1 from 8 to 9 p.m. among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. And X Factor's total viewer margin for that second hour was hardly imposing. Here's how it broke down:

X Factor -- 387,839 total viewers
Modern Family -- 373,988
Criminal Minds (CBS) -- 318,582
Harry's Law (NBC) -- 235,474

X Factor handily controlled the 7 p.m. hour in both ratings measurements, though. But its ratings were nowhere near Idol-like, giving Fox reason to worry whether Thursday's second two-hour edition might drop after a less than spectacular opening night.

At 9 p.m., CBS' venerable CSI: Crime Scene Investigation performed well on a new night and with Ted Danson newly added. It drew 277,028 total viewers in turning back competition from Fox4's still potent local newscast (221,622), ABC's new Revenge (214,697) and NBC's Law & Order: SVU (200,845).

CSI also won among 18-to-49-year-olds, with Revenge falling to fourth place and SVU vaulting to second.

The second episodes of NBC's Up All Night and Free Agents ran fourth in total viewers from 7 to 8 p.m. Up All Night improved to third place with 18-to-49-year-olds -- beating the first half-hour of ABC's The Middle -- while Free Agents remained fourth.

Wednesday's local news derby results went like this: WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the 10 p.m. lead in total viewers but Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept both the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. competitions. At 5 p.m., CBS11 had the total viewers win and tied Fox4 for first place with 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 keeps trying to move early morning ratings meter, this time with a "kid" Corning comedy spot

WFAA8 generally remains stuck in third in D-FW's early morning news ratings, occasionally slipping up to second ahead of NBC5 or sliding down to fourth behind CBS11.

But the station can't be accused of not trying. Its Daybreak team of Cynthia Izaguirre, Greg Fields, Alexa Conomos and Ron Corning, who arrived in late April from New York, receives heavy doses of daily promotion on the ABC affiliate. And now in a brand new 30-second spot, it's Corning getting his first showcase, in tandem with l-o-o-o-o-o-ngtime sports anchor Dale Hansen.

Again puffing on a cigar and pontificating, Hansen welcomes the "kid" into his godfather-ish realm and initially calls him "John" before proclaiming himself a "legend in town."

Corning is told that he, too, can be somebody. "Get your name out there," Hansen counsels/orders. Your name is the key. Trust me on this."

In the next scene, Corning is amply splashed with yellow paint while carrying two buckets. And the cops are chasing him. Pan to an overhead billboard in which Corning has painted a "C" over the "M" in "Love Your Morning."

"Dale!" he exclaims while on the run. Then comes the voice-over pitch: "He's taking over the morning. Ron Corning. Now on News 8 Daybreak.

I'm not sure that the spot entirely works. I'd give it a B. But look at it this way, too. It's a full-blown effort to differentiate itself on the part of a locally owned station that still hand-carves all of its spots. Many of them are unlike anything else seen in the country's fifth largest TV market. This latest one is filmic and brimming with production values. It doesn't look cheap, it caught my eye and it gives me something to write about.

So here it is. See what you think.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Sept. 19) -- huge opening for Two and a Half Men while Playboy Club falls flat

Two and a Half Men's introduction of Ashton Kutcher as Charlie Sheen's replacement went nuts in the D-FW ratings Monday night while NBC was left with peanuts for the premiere of The Playboy Club.

Two and a Half also had roughly two-and-a-half times the audience for any competing program, including ABC's two-hour re-launch of Dancing with the Stars. Airing in its usual 8 to 8:30 p.m. slot, the CBS sitcom amassed 810,307 viewers, a bigger crowd than some of the Dallas Cowboys' pre-season games averaged. In that same half-hour, Dancing drew 318,582 viewers.

Two and a Half also scored big with advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds while Dancing lagged in third place from 7 to 9 p.m. behind CBS' sitcom lineup and Fox's two helpings of Hell's Kitchen. Dancing did beat Hell's in total viewers, but still didn't have enough juice to outdraw CBS.

Monday's second most-watched prime-time attraction, the post-Two and a Half premiere of CBS' 2 Broke Girls, had 588,685 total viewers. CBS' 7 to 8 p.m. double dose of How I Met Your Mother also won across the board.

CBS stumbled a bit at 9 p.m., where the season premiere of Hawaii Five-0 had 360,136 total viewers in running a close second to ABC's new season launch of Castle (373,988 viewers). Castle won by a wider margin with 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC limped through night one of the new season, with its 7 to 9 p.m. Sing-Off barely in register (69,257 total viewers). Then came the Peacock's much-hyped Playboy Club, which improved to 138,514 viewers to nip Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast (131,588 viewers). Playboy Club also edged Fox4's news for third place with 18-to-49-year-olds, but in each case was nowhere in the vicinity of the competing dramas on ABC and CBS.

On ESPN, Monday Night Football had more 18-to-49-year-olds from 9 to 10 p.m. than any of the broadcast network hours. The game between the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams had an overall average of 304,731 total viewers.

In Monday's start-of-the-season local news derby results, WFAA8 got off to a nice start with twin wins at 10 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Fox4 improved to second in the latter measurement while NBC5 rode a starvation diet lead-in from Playboy Club into a pair of fourth-place finishes.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions, doubling the audience of runner-up NBC5 in the 25-to-54 demographic. Fox4 also ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers while tying WFAA8 for the top spot among 25-to-54-year-olds.

The 5 p.m. race ended in a first-place tie for total viewers between Fox4 and WFAA8. But Fox4 won outright with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Sept. 16-18) -- Cowboys' last ditch win flexes before Sunday Night Football bests Emmys


Tony Romo counsels Jesse Holley before they team up big-time. Photo: Ed Bark

Tony Romo rode again Sunday, turning his legions of doubters into true believers -- at least for a week -- by fighting off the pain of a broken rib and leading the Dallas Cowboys to an exhilarating comeback win at San Francisco.

The mid-afternoon game on Fox started slowly with 768,753 D-FW viewers for its first 15 minutes before more than doubling that crowd for the 6:15 to 6:30 p.m. overtime climax (1,648,317 viewers). The entire game averaged 1,274,329 viewers, well short of the 1,634,465 who watched the Cowboys collapse against the Jets on the NFL's principal prime-time stage, NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Cowboys-49ers averaged 644,958 viewers in the motherlode 18-to-49 demographic compared to the 835,812 who watched the Jets snatch victory from Dallas in the regular season opener after Romo fumbled near the New York goal line and then threw an interception that led to the winning field goal.

But against the 49ers, Romo heroically returned to the field after initially being ruled out of the game by the Cowboys. He talked himself back in and also mentored spare part receiver Jesse Holley, who caught a 77-yard pass from Romo on the Cowboys' first play in overtime. A little 19-yard field goal then sealed the deal and possibly saved Dallas' season from another early meltdown.

Fox's three-hour Primetime Emmy awards, which began a half-hour after the Cowboys game ended, averaged 581,759 total viewers, a very respectable number. But NBC Eagles-Falcons game, which started roughly a half-hour later, outpointed it with an average of 664,867 viewers.

Also, the Emmy audience tailed off throughout the night while Sunday Night Football added viewers. The closing 9:45 to 10 p.m. portion of the Emmys, in which the best drama and comedy series winners were announced, had 422,468 viewers. In that same 15-minute increment, Eagles-Falcons drew 803,381 viewers. Football also whipped the Emmys among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest Sunday afternoon, the first-place Texas Rangers went directly against the Cowboys while beating Seattle 3-0. The game averaged 117,737 total viewers, less than one-tenth the size of the overall audience for Dallas-San Francisco.

CBS' early afternoon Jets-Jaguars game drew 477,873 viewers before the network's Patriots-Chargers faceoff shrunk to 173,143 viewers opposite the Cowboys.

On Saturday, the most-watched college football game, ABC's matchup of powerhouses Oklahoma and Florida State, pulled in 387,839 viewers. ABC's preceding Texas-UCLA game had 270,102 viewers.

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers and shared first place with NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. while also winning at 5 and 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. The 6 p.m. total viewers gold went to CBS11 while Fox4 and NBC5 tied for first place in that measurement at 5 p.m.

The new fall season officially starts on Monday, Sept. 19th, with all five major broadcast networks weighing in with first-run programming while ESPN counters with another edition of Monday Night Football.

D-FW takes a rare dip in latest Nielsen population estimates (updated)


After years of steady upward movement, the Dallas-Fort Worth TV market surprisingly has lost some eyeballs, according to the latest population and ratings point data from Nielsen Media Research.

D-FW remains the country's 5th largest TV market, retaining a slim edge over San Francisco while trailing New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia in that order. Of the top 10 TV markets, only No. 10 Houston gained audience from last year.

It's a body blow to local TV news operations in particular, many of which had counted on yearly ratings inflation in times when audiences already are getting harder and harder to come by. D-FW, which had been on the cusp of exceeding the 7 million total viewers mark, instead will be falling short of that number.

The latest Nielsen data, which will go into effect on Saturday, Sept. 24th, says that D-FW's total viewer population will be 6,774,106 (67,741 viewers per rating point) as of that date. That's down from the current 6,925,725 (69,257 viewers per rating point).

In fall 2007, each rating point was worth 64,420 viewers. That jumped to 66,430 in 2008 and then to 67,863 in 2009 before hitting the current all-time high. The new total basically reverts back to what a rating point was worth in 2009.

Let's say that a Dallas Cowboys game gets a 15.0 rating in the total viewer Nielsens. Under the current data, that would be 1,038,855 viewers. Under the soon-to-be-implemented new data, that number drops to 1,016,115.

D-FW also took a tumble in the number of TV households and in two key advertiser-sought demographic groups -- 18-to-49-year-olds for entertainment programming and 25-to-54-year-olds for news programming. Here's a look at how all of those numbers kept growing until this latest Nielsen data.

TOTAL TV HOUSEHOLDS (value per rating point for each September of that year)

2007 -- 24,356
2008 -- 24,900
2009 -- 25,444
2010 -- 25,946
2011 -- 25,713


2007 -- 31,534
2008 -- 32,412
2009 -- 32,616
2010 - 32,906
2011 -- 32,023


2007 -- 29,445
2008 -- 30,353
2009 -- 30,690
2010 -- 31,067
2011 -- 30,093

Only one demographic group has grown in the past year, according to the new Nielsen data. And that's viewers 65 years and older, which stations and advertisers consider to be the equivalent of scurvy in terms of setting commercial rates. That total population in D-FW has grown from 673,003 to 673,729, says Nielsen.

It's an up-and-down story regarding the number of Latino and black TV households in D-FW.

Nielsen's new data says there are 504,610 Latino homes in D-FW, down from 526,760.

But the new figure of 396,940 black homes is an increase from 368,640,

Go figure.

D-FW television station managers could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon on these latest possible dings to their bottom lines.

Krystle Gutierrez remains with Fox4, but without a contract and with the freedom to move elsewhere

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Wife & husband Krystle and Kris Gutierrez Fox4/Fox News photos

Fox4 reporter and substitute anchor Krystle Gutierrez remains with the station for now, but is no longer under contract.

A station spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that Gutierrez, who primarily works the early morning shift, is "still a contributor for Good Day." She originally joined the Dallas-based station in July 2007, and her contract expired earlier this summer.

Gutierrez's husband, Kris Gutierrez, has been a Dallas-based reporter with cable's Fox News Channel since February 2007. But informed sources say he is angling for an anchoring job at an out-of-town news station. If that works out, Krystle will make the transition with him, ending her stay with Fox4. That's primarily why neither party opted for a new contract.

Krystle Gutierrez has not returned an email asking for comment. Fox4 management in Dallas referred an inquiry from unclebarky.com to its corporate headquarters, from where the official statement came on Gutierrez remaining a contributor for now. She was on the air during Tuesday's Good Day, which remains D-FW's No. 1-rated early morning program while also regularly outdrawing the three network morning shows from 7 to 9 a.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Sept. 9-11) -- Cowboys again excel in ratings, collapse on field (updated)


Romo & Dez wonder what hit them after killer miscue. Photo: Ed Bark

Again excruciatingly entertaining in defeat, the Dallas Cowboys gave away another Sunday Night Football opener while surpassing the D-FW audience for last season's 13-7 gaffe-fest at Washington.

The 27-24 loss to the New York Jets on NBC averaged 1,634,465 viewers, up from the 1,574,422 who watched Dallas let the Redskins win the 2010 regular season kickoff under the Peacock's prime-time banner.

Just over half of the viewers for Cowboys-Jets -- 835,812 -- were in the motherlode 18-to-49 age range. The game ran until 10:40 p.m. and included a fourth quarter in which the Cowboys blew a 14-point lead via a Tony Romo fumble and interception, plus a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by the Jets.

Romo again took all the blame during a post-game interview, but that act is getting more than a little old for many Cowboys fans. NBC analyst Tony Dungy got to the nub of it with this assessment of Dallas: "They can't get right to the doorstep, and then fold up like this."

Nationally, the game was the most-watched Sunday Night Football attraction ever with 25.8 million viewers, says NBC. That edged the Dec. 12, 2010 average of 25.73 million for the Cowboys-Eagles game. Four of the five most-watched SNF games involve the Cowboys. NBC has had the Sunday night package since the 2006 season.

However, the audience for Cowboys-Jets did not surpass either of NBC's last two Thursday night "NFL Kickoff" games. The 2010 matchup between the Vikings and Saints drew 27.5 million viewers while last Thursday's Packers-Saints opener had 27.2 million.

In Sunday's other D-FW pro football ratings, Fox's mid-afternoon Redskins-Giants game averaged 630,239 total viewers while the network's noon starting Eagles-Rams matchup had 464,022. On CBS opposite Eagles-Rams, the Baltimore Ravens' blowout of the Pittsburgh Steelers averaged 304,731 viewers locally.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the first-place Texas Rangers' Sunday afternoon win over Oakland was the equivalent of a sacrifice bunt, with just 124,663 viewers.

The most-watched weekend Rangers game, Friday night's win over the A's on TXA21, drew 193,920 viewers. Saturday's afternoon/early evening loss to Oakland on Fox was right behind with 186,994 viewers.

NBC had the largest D-FW audience for its Sunday morning coverage of the 9/11 memorials. An average of 117,737 viewers tuned in, with ABC running second (76,183 viewers).

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 topped the 10 p.m. field in total viewers but NBC5 won among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m., did likewise at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. first with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 had the 6 p.m. spoils in total viewers.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Sept. 7) -- impressive numbers for Republican presidential debate

This has to be a first in this market.

MSNBC's Republican presidential debate, featuring the inaugural appearance by Texas Gov. Rick "Ponzi scheme" Perry, won its 7 to 9 p.m. time slot Wednesday, even nipping NBC's America's Got Talent.

The first hour had 159,291 D-FW viewers, tying CBS' competing Big Brother 13 for the lead. And the 8 to 9 p.m. second half swelled to 214,697 viewers, enough to top runnerup Talent's 207,771. In five years of local ratings chronicling for unclebarky.com, I can't recall MSNBC ever being the ratings leader at any time of the night or day.

Wednesday's 9 p.m. hour went to Fox4's local newscast, which had 180,068 viewers. MSNBC's 9 to 10 p.m. debate post mortem held onto 90,034 viewers. Also at that hour, the series finale of FX's Rescue Me had 62,331 viewers.

Fox4 also had a profitable day in the four principal local newscast competitions. It ran the table with advertiser-preferred 25-to-54-year-olds, winning at 6 a.m. and at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

Fox4 also tied CBS11 for first place at 6 p.m. in total viewers. The other golds in that measurement went to NBC5 at 6 a.m., and WFAA8 at 5 and 10 p.m.

Halftime for TXA21 prime-time news, with the 8 to 9 p.m. hour being dropped

No joke. The 8 to 9 p.m. hour of TXA21 News: First in Prime will be supplanted in September by the syndicated version of America's Funniest Home Videos.

That will leave a 7 to 7:30 p.m. edition anchored by Keith Garvin, followed by a half-hour sports program with Gina Miller. Tracy Kornet, who has been co-anchoring First in Prime, will remain behind the desk on sister station CBS11's weekday 4 p.m. newscast, with Garvin continuing as co-anchor. Kornet also will fill in on the TXA21 newscast when Garvin is unavailable, director of communications Lori Conrad said Friday.

The First in Prime newscast debuted Sept. 18, 2006 on TXA21, and had been two hours in length since that time. But ratings were problematic and seemingly stagnant. In the four-week May ratings "sweeps," the 7 p.m. hour averaged just 13,851 total viewers while the 8 p.m. hour had 20,777.

The revamped TXA21 prime-time schedule will take effect on Sept. 12th, with other changes also announced Friday.

A new court show, Last Shot with Judge Gunn, will run from 3 to 4 p.m. weekdays, starting on Sept. 26th. TXA21 is adding America's Court with Judge Ross from noon to 1 p.m., beginning Sept. 5th. That will give the station six consecutive hours of judge 'n' jury shows (noon to 6 p.m.). That smashes rival Fox4's run of four straight hours of courtroom melodrama in the 1 to 5 p.m. bloc.

In late night, TXA21 will premiere a weekday reality dating show at 10 p.m. It's called Excused, and is hosted by Iliza Shlesinger, the Season 6 winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing. Launch date is Sept. 12th. And syndicated repeats of FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia will run from midnight to 12:30 a.m., starting Sept. 19th.