powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


Fox4 paces May "sweeps" local newscast ratings, with WFAA8 also scoring points (with some sleight-of-hand trickery at 10 p.m.)

WFAA8 regained its 10 p.m. newscast bragging rights, although in a rather underhanded way, while Fox4 won three of the four major local races among advertiser-courted 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 also was the only D-FW news operation to show year-to-year across-the-board gains in the four-week May ratings "sweeps," which ended Wednesday. Its comfortable margins of victory at 6 a.m. were especially impressive, with Fox4 rebounding from second place finishes a year ago (behind NBC5) while also significantly increasing its audience. The Peacock, WFAA8 and CBS11 all lost early morning viewers from May 2010.

The 10 p.m. race again was exceedingly tight. CBS11, which won in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds a year ago for the first time in station history, ran second in both measurements by almost infinitesimal margins. But did WFAA8 really "win?"

Here's what happened. Tuesday night's storm coverage inflated the 10 p.m. newscast audiences on all four stations, with WFAA8 routing its three opponents in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds despite being criticized in some quarters for mixing its prime-time severe weather updates with the season finale of ABC's Dancing with the Stars.

WFAA8's runaway wins over CBS11, which finished third in both ratings measurements, put the two stations in virtual ties after 19 days of the 20-day sweeps. Then came the chicanery. Anticipating a less than stellar lead-in audience from a new 9:30 p.m. episode of ABC's new Happy Endings sitcom, WFAA8 "threw out" Wednesday's 10 p.m. newscast by re-titling it as a tornado special. That meant it would not be counted by Nielsen Media Research in the final sweeps averages. CBS11 didn't exactly have a blockbuster lead-in either. Its network furnished it with a new episode of the recently canceled Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.

CBS11, Fox4 and NBC5 all counted their Wednesday 10 p.m. newscasts in the final "sweeps" average. Or to put it more bluntly, they continued to play ball while WFAA8 wimpily went on the disabled list with a hangnail.

End result: CBS11 won in total viewers Wednesday night with 180,068 while tying Fox4 for first place with 25-to-54-year-olds (80,774 apiece). WFAA8 ran second in total viewers (145,440) and limped in a distant fourth with 25-to-54-year-olds (just 37,280). But remember, those last-night WFAA8 ratings didn't count. So the station's overall sweeps averages weren't lowered, but CBS11's were.

Nielsen numbers crunching shows that CBS11 would have won both 10 p.m. competitions by a hair had WFAA8 included its Wednesday newscast numbers instead of running away from a climactic fight. All four stations also knew that the ongoing Dallas Mavericks-Oklahoma City Thunder playoff game likely would siphon away some potential 10 p.m. newscast watchers.

The final and official 10 p.m. totals are below. Those are what count, and WFAA8 can go ahead and re-promote itself as the most-watched station for late night news. But Nielsen numbers-crunching shows that had the station's Wednesday 10 p.m. news ratings been averaged in, CBS11 would have won by scores of 206,920 to 205,110 in total viewers and 80,681 to 79,190 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Most readers may not care one way or the other. And basically both 10 p.m. races were statistically close enough to call them ties. But we try to give you the real story behind the story here at unclebarky.com. And when you get right down to it, WFAA8 didn't exactly cover itself in glory with its machinations on Wednesday night.

On the overall plus side at 10 p.m., all four stations showed year-to-year increases in total viewers while only NBC5 was down (but just a smidge) among 25-to-54-year-olds. Tuesday's weather burst helped, but the stations also were up against potent Mavericks playoff games on several night.

Fox4 easily has the most to celebrate. Besides its clear-cut wins at 6 a.m., it likewise dominated the 5 and 6 p.m. Nielsens in the key 25-to-54 demographic. And at 10 p.m., it increased its year-to-year 25-to-54 viewership an average of 17,866 per newscast. That put the station within striking distance of first place while NBC5 also was in the hunt.

WFAA8 won at both 5 and 6 p.m. in total viewers, with some help from the final days of the 4 p.m. Oprah Winfrey Show. But it lost ground at 6 a.m., falling deeper into third place than it was a year ago. NBC5 also suffered some serious erosion at wake-up time, particularly with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Both the Peacock and CBS11 came away with no wins at all this time out, although the 10 p.m. results merit an asterisk next to victorious WFAA8. Still, CBS11 again had an overall 9:45 to 10 p.m. lead-in advantage from its network's entertainment programming, although not so much in the 25-to-54 measurement, where ABC's attractions came close to reaching parity.

One more observation about WFAA8. No station's management deems the three annual ratings "sweeps" periods more inconsequential. It's a year-around "marathon" -- or at least what they preach for public consumption. But WFAA8's actions on Wednesday night obviously indicate otherwise. They're in it to win it as much as everyone else is. And by just about any means necessary.

Here are the complete Nielsen results for the 10 p.m. 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. local newscasts, with May-to-May gains and losses in parentheses:

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 208,325 (plus 17,360)
CBS11 -- 206,871 (plus 11,629)
NBC5 -- 156,867 (plus 5,940
Fox4 -- 141,769 (plus 35,350)

WFAA8 -- 81,116 (plus 6,969)
CBS11 -- 80,680 (plus 1,438)
Fox4 -- 77,885 (plus 17,866)
NBC5 -- 75,990 (minus 91)

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 117,945 (plus 26,534)
NBC5 -- 96,683 (minus 8,980)
WFAA8 -- 49,588 (minus 15,425)
CBS11 -- 41,069 (minus 6,232)

Fox4 -- 74,685 (plus 12,292)
NBC5 -- 47,501 (minus 16,150)
WFAA8 -- 35,976 (minus 3,768)
CBS11 -- 18,889 (minus 4,773)

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 160,884 (plus 36,559)
CBS11 -- 157,767 (plus 33,510)
Fox4 -- 144,124 (plus 41,854)
NBC5 -- 110,118 (plus 1,605)

Fox4 -- 71,733 (plus 12,655)
WFAA8 -- 62,196 (plus 16,713)
CBS11 -- 35,695 (minus 4,724)
NBC5 -- 34,826 (plus 5,118)

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 144,539 (plus 31,004)
CBS11 -- 119,191 (plus 48,613)
Fox4 -- 118,845 (plus 34,220)
NBC5 -- 115,936 (plus 13,937)

Fox4 -- 63,936 (plus 19,313)
WFAA8 -- 48,247 (plus 10,478)
NBC5 -- 41,133 (plus 14,433)
CBS11 -- 35,292 (plus 9,236)

SOURCE: Nielsen Media Research