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Fox4 paces November "sweeps" in wins and year-to-year increases

Fox4 logged three of the four November "sweeps" ratings wins in the key 25-to-54 demographic while also showing some significant year-to-year-audience increases in the tri-annual battle to charge more money for commercial spots on D-FW newscasts.

The station won at 6 a.m. and at 5 and 6 p.m. among viewers representing the prime target for most advertisers. Fox4 added a 6 a.m. win in total viewers and tied NBC5 for first place at 5 p.m., according to measurements from Nielsen Media Research.

WFAA8 nipped CBS11 for first place at 10 p.m. in total viewers and won by a comfortable margin in the 25-to-54 demographic. CBS11 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m., but plummeted to fourth with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The four-week period, from Oct. 27th through Thanksgiving eve, also was marked by sharp audience declines at 5 p.m. for WFAA8, which ran fourth in total viewers and third with 25-to-54-year-olds after respectively placing first and second last November. It was the station's first sweeps period in a quarter-century without The Oprah Winfrey Show as a 5 p.m. lead-in. The replacement, Dr. Oz, ran fourth across the board.

WFAA8 on the other hand benefited from improved 9:45 to 10 p.m. lead-ins from the ABC network after years of trailing CBS. The average gap in total viewers was just four-tenths of a rating point this time after CBS11 profited from appreciably bigger advantages in previous sweeps periods. And WFAA8 enjoyed a lead-in advantage over CBS11 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

NBC5 overall endured the worst late news lead-ins from its network, with the final 15 minutes of Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast outdrawing whatever NBC offered at that hour.

In the increasingly competitive early morning news race, Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 all made solid year-to-year gains among 25-to-54-year-olds, while CBS11 fell further off the map.

Although its best showing was a 5 p.m. first-place tie (with Fox4) in total viewers, NBC5 managed to log mostly year-to-year gains at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m.

The November sweeps also saw a rare decline in the average value of rating points after years of annual upward swings. Nielsen's new estimates, which went into effect in September, say that each rating point now is worth 67,741 total viewers, down from 69,257. And in the 25-to-54 demographic, the value has decreased from 31,067 to 30,093 viewers per rating point.

Here are the final November 2011 results for the principal four-way local newscast competitions, with yearly increases or decreases in parentheses:

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 206,110 (down from 222,523)
CBS11 -- 201,300 (down from 221,969)
NBC5 -- 115,160 (down from 145,370)
Fox4 -- 108,386 (down from 117,737)

WFAA8 -- 87,270 (down from 95,780)
CBS11 -- 69,214 (down from 91,306)
Fox4 -- 66,205 (up from 63,967)
NBC5 -- 60,186 (down from 70,677)

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 108,386 (up from 98,137)
NBC5 -- 94,837 (up from 93,289)
WFAA8 -- 74,515 (down from 76,806)
CBS11 -- 33,871 (down from 47,303)

Fox4 -- 66,205 (up from 55,175)
NBC5 -- 51,158 (up from 39,393)
WFAA8 -- 45,140 (up from 35,913)
CBS11 -- 18,056 (down from 22,275)

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 149,030 (down from 169,472)
Fox4 -- 128,708 (up from 122,516)
WFAA8 -- 121,934 (down from 159,430)
NBC5 -- 115,160 (down from 118,637)

Fox4 -- 57,177 (down from 58,126)
WFAA8 -- 45,140 (down from 53,777)
NBC5 -- 39,121 (up from 37,964)
CBS11 -- 33,102 (down from 53,404)

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4/NBC5 -- 121,934 each (up respectively from 100,492 and 94,744)
CBS11 -- 115,160 (up from 111,642)
WFAA8 -- 88,063 (down from 145,786)

Fox4 -- 54,167 (up from 47,657)
NBC5 -- 39,121 (up from 30,601)
WFAA8 -- 33,102 (down from 46,383)
CBS11 -- 30,093 (down from 34,484)

The November sweeps numbers also showed that newscast viewing increasingly tends to be an older pursuit, except in the early mornings.

At 10 p.m. among viewers 65 years and older, front-running CBS11 and runner-up WFAA8 both had twice as many viewers as either Fox4 or NBC5. But all four stations had higher overall ratings averages than they did in either total viewers or 25-to-54-year-olds.

Here's the late night news breakdown in the 65+ Nielsens:

CBS11 -- 72,760 out of 201,300 total viewers
WFAA8 -- 68,044 out of 206,100 total viewers
NBC5 -- 31,664 out of 115,160 total viewers
Fox4 -- 21,584 out of 108,386 total viewers

In the cruel, cruel world of advertiser-driven TV, this particular demographic is basically considered worthless, even though many seniors still get out and eat at Luby's on occasion.

Now let's look at the youngest audience group for which November sweeps ratings are available. That would be 18-to-34-year-olds. And no, they aren't exactly avid news watchers. Here's the 10 p.m. breakdown in this demographic, which is greatly valued by advertisers whatever the category of programming:

WFAA8 -- 21,934 out of 206,100 total viewers
Fox4 -- 13,498 out of 108,386 total viewers
CBS11 -- 10,123 out of 201,300 total viewers
NBC5 -- 8,436 out of 115,160 total viewers

Or to put it another way, far more viewers 65+ watch CBS11's 10 p.m. news than the combined audience of 18-to-34-year-olds for all four local late nighters.