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Channeling your 10 p.m. viewing habits

Brand loyalty is only a push button away in most red-blooded American homes.

For years we've had remote possibilities. In Little Barky's formative years, it was far more arduous -- and dangerous -- to change the channel from The Lawrence Welk Show to Have Gun, Will Travel. A kid could get yelled at for that. And you also had to get up, physically click the channel to the left or right and then screw around with the "fine tuning." Lotta trouble.

Still, many viewers apparently remain affected by "lead-in" programming, particularly when it comes to D-FW's local 10 p.m. newscasts. A big audience for a 9 p.m. show generally carries over into the 10 p.m. hour, with a significant percentage of viewers choosing to stick with the channel that got them there. At least that's what the daily Nielsen ratings often show.

As the four-week November "sweeps" approach (start date is Oct. 29), CBS11 is in strong position to win for the first time ever at 10 p.m. Its network's powerful Monday-Friday arsenal of 9 p.m. crime shows has something to do with that. But CBS11's newscast also is doing a better job of retaining the large audiences it inherits on most nights. And the product has improved, too.

NBC5's 10 p.m. newscasts, lately crumbling under the weight of lousy lead-ins from The Jay Leno Show, had a lengthy stay in first place from Feb. 2002 through Nov. 2006. Not coincidentally, NBC was still flexing in the 9 p.m. hour with hits such as ER, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and even Dateline.

WFAA8, which had long been dominant at 10 p.m., reclaimed the top spot in February 2007 by beating NBC5 in total viewers. Not coincidentally, the station got a big boost -- and also made its own luck -- by opening its new Victory Park studios in January of that year while also becoming the first D-FW station to present its newscasts in high-definition. It aided WFAA8 in overcoming a not-so-hot ABC prime-time lineup in which its best 9 p.m. lead-in bets were Boston Legal and 20/20.

CBS11's April 2007 hiring of controversial news director Regent Ducas likewise was a plus for WFAA8. His "run 'n' gun," car wrecks 'n' crime approach created havoc in the newsroom while also taking the station on a downward spiral in the ratings. For a brief time, NBC5 had only the second-worst newscast in town. Five months later Ducas was replaced by the far higher-planed Scott Diener. But the damage had been done, and it's taken a while to undo it.

This is prelude to a multiple choice, unscientific survey of readers' 10 p.m. news viewing habits. Your comments are encouraged, and here's the overall question:

How do you like your late night newscast served?

A. Over easy -- Whatever 9 p.m. show I'm watching, I'm usually hooked by one or more of the newscast "teases" during commercial breaks. So I tend to stick around for that story or stories rather than change channels. Besides, I've been entertained for the previous hour, so why not give a little something back?

B. Scrambled -- I like to sample from various newscast menus, so I tend to click around to see who's doing what. If something doesn't interest me, I move on.

C. Hardboiled -- It doesn't matter what 9 p.m. show I'm watching. I'll always switch to my favorite 10 p.m. newscast, or simply stay in place if it's on the same channel. By the way, whatever happened to viewer loyalty?

D. Poached -- I usually watch Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast. Then, because the 10 p.m. edition is mostly a replication, I'll either change to another local newscast or watch an entertainment program.

E. Eggs in other baskets -- I seldom if ever watch the late night local newscasts. I'd rather check out the "fake news" on The Daily Show, Sports Center or something else entirely. Early to bed is also an option.

Let's hear from you in the Comments section. I'd really like to know.