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WFAA8 regains 10 p.m. top spots while CBS11 breaks through for first-ever 6 p.m. win in November "sweeps" newscast ratings races

WFAA8 anchors John McCaa and Gloria Campos Photo: Ed Bark

WFAA8 very narrowly retained the D-FW 10 p.m. ratings "sweeps" crowns it lost to CBS11 in May while at the same time losing at 6 p.m. to CBS11, which won in total viewers for the first time ever.

Fox4 also made considerable noise in November with a pair of first place finishes at 6 a.m. and golds among advertiser-favored 25-to-54-year-olds at both 5 and 6 p.m.

In the dumper was NBC5, which ran second at 6 a.m., third at 10 p.m. and fourth at both 5 and 6 p.m.

The 10 p.m. races again were exceedingly close between WFAA8 and CBS11, which have been knocking heads at that hour since the November 2009 sweeps. That was when CBS11 broke through for its first-ever win in total viewers, beating WFAA8 by a paper-thin margin of 228,291 to 225,916 viewers in the final "Live Same Day" ratings. WFAA8 retained the 25-to-54 trophy, with CBS11 close behind. But CBS11 then broke through in May with unprecedented twin wins at 10 p.m.

The November 2010 sweeps ran from Oct. 28th through the day before Thanksgiving. And CBS11 still led in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds after the Monday, Nov. 22nd results. Still, its 10 p.m. newscast on that night failed to fully capitalize on a substantial lead-in advantage from CBS' Hawaii Five-0, which drew more than twice as many viewers as ABC's competing premiere of Skating with the Stars. WFAA8 nonetheless won narrowly at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds to remain within a catchable distance of CBS11 with two weeknights to go.

Then came the hammer -- Tuesday's two-hour season finale of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. The second hour of DWTS demolished CBS' competing The Good Wife in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, giving WFAA8 the biggest single night lead-in advantage of the sweeps. And WFAA8's 10 p.m. news capitalized, bludgeoning CBS11 in total viewers by a score of 415,542 to 159,291. WFAA8 also routed CBS11 among 25-to-54-year-olds while catapulting into first place in both ratings measurements.

Both stations then took a knee on Thanksgiving eve, opting for "H" for holiday travel designations that dealt the final night's ratings out of the November sweeps averages. For the record, WFAA8 won in both measurements anyway Wednesday night. So it wouldn't have mattered. Also, CBS11 had an overall lead-in advantage from CBS during the entire course of the sweeps, with WFAA8 benefiting at the eleventh hour from the mega-audience for Dancing's Tuesday night climax.

The 10 p.,m. final verdicts in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds again were narrow enough to be broken down to three decimal points. By that measurement, WFAA8 won in total viewers by a less than paper-thin margin of 222,523 to 221,969.

In November 2009, WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin told unclebarky.com that CBS11's narrow win in total viewers was "so far within the margin of (statistical) error that it's absolutely ludicrous to talk about a winner or loser. It's a tie. I don't think it's accurate reporting to say somebody won or lost."

This time around, a CBS11 publicity release conceded the 10 p.m. win to WFAA8 while also noting the station's "extremely close second place (finish)" in total viewers. The station instead trumpeted its first-ever 6 p.m. victory, noting its newscast's impressive 81 percent year-to-year growth in that time period.

One bit of gamesmanship during the sweeps may have been key to the final 10 p.m. results. As previously reported on unclebarky.com, WFAA8 weathercaster Pete Delkus used his Monday, Nov. 15th prime-time promotional segments to repeatedly tease viewers with the question, "Did Hansen finally get suspended? The answer tonight, at 10."

The reference was to WFAA8's ever-opinionated sports anchor Dale Hansen, who has been known to mouth off on a regular basis. Hansen's joke "suspension," for about three seconds of that night's newscast, was tied to his commentary on Cowboys' running back Marion Barber's violation of new coach Jason Garrett's coat-and-tie dress code. Coincidentally or not, WFAA8's 10 p.m. ratings ballooned on that night while CBS11's sagged in both ratings measurements.

Did the Delkus/Hansen gambit lure substantially more curious eyeballs to WFAA8? WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine and CBS11 news director Adrienne Roark have both declined to comment on the record. One thing is certain. Many prospective late night news watchers saw those Delkus promotions during the penultimate performance edition of Dancing with the Stars, which averaged 491,725 viewers on that night.

Here are the final results of the November 2010 sweeps in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds. Last November's totals are in parentheses. Also of note: Ratings inflation means that each point is now worth 69,257 total viewers and 31,067 viewers in the 25-to-54 age range. In November 2009, those totals were 67,863 and 30,690.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 222,523 (down from 225,915)
CBS11 -- 221,969 (down from 228,291)
NBC5 -- 145,370 (up from 138,848)
Fox4 -- 117,737 (up from 75,464) *Some newscasts were aided by Texas Rangers-infused World Series lead-ins.

WFAA8 -- 95,780 (down from 101,093)
CBS11 -- 91,306 (up from 91,027)
NBC5 -- 70,677 (up from 69,114)
Fox4 -- 63,967 (up from 44,623)

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 98,137 (down from 102,541)
NBC5 -- 93,289 (down from 123,239)
WFAA8 -- 76,806 (down from 83,947)
CBS11 -- 47,303 (up from 45,265)

Fox4 -- 55,175 (down from 66,321)
NBC5 -- 39,393 (down from 70,648)
WFAA8 -- 35,913 (down from 49,350)
CBS11 -- 22,275 (down from 27,437)

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 169,472 (up from 93,719)
WFAA8 -- 159,430 (down from 161,921)
Fox4 -- 122,516 (up from 89,104)
NBC5 -- 118,637 (up from 111,770)

25-to-54 year olds
Fox4 -- 58,126 (up from 46,096)
WFAA8 -- 53,777 (down from 61,503)
CBS11 -- 53,404 (up from 32,071)
NBC5 -- 37,964 (down from 43,580)

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 145,786 (up from 113,399)
CBS11 -- 111,642 (up from 71,595)
Fox4 -- 100,492 (up from 95,823)
NBC5 -- 94,744 (down from 101,591)

25-to-54 year olds
Fox4 -- 47,657 (down from 53,984)
WFAA8 -- 46,383 (up from 42,751)
CBS11 -- 34,484 (up from 22,741)
NBC5 -- 30,601 (down from 39,222)

It should be noted that the Spanish language Noticias local newscasts on Univision23 ran first at 10 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, beating all four English language editions in this key demographic. It was the same story at 5 p.m., with Noticias again topping the field in the 25-to-54 demographic.

In total viewers, Noticias ran third at 10 p.m. and second at 5 p.m.

In the two-way 9 p.m. battle, Fox4's hour-long local newscast bludgeoned CW33's in both ratings measurements.

Fox4 averaged 133,527 total viewers to CW33's 42,801. Among 25-to-54-year-olds, Fox4 won by a score of 53,528 to 19,852.