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

@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