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May "sweeps" local news finale: NBC5 breaks through with two wins while Fox4 wins three of four demo derbies and 10 p.m. results are split

After a winless May last year, NBC5 logged two No. 1 local news finishes this time out, including a dethroning of Fox4 as the most-watched early morning newscast and a worst-to-first upgrade at 5 p.m..

But Fox4 topped three of the four major battlegrounds in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. In the showcase 10 p.m. competition, CBS11 defended its February "sweeps" championship in total viewers while WFAA8 won among 25-to-54-year-olds and added a 6 p.m. gold in Nielsen's total viewers measurement.

Here are the May 2012 ratings "sweeps" results for the four-way competitions at 10 p.m. and at 6 a.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Figures in parentheses represent audience plusses or minuses from May 2011. Because of very close races in several time periods, numbers again have been extended to four decimals (1.417 for instance) to determine winners.

(Also note that ratings point erosion is at least a small factor. In May 2011, each point was worth 69,257 viewers in the D-FW market. Nielsen says that figure now is 67,741 viewers. And among 25-to-54-year-olds, the value of a rating point has dropped from 31,067 to 30,093.)

Here we go:

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 196,313 (minus 10,558)
WFAA8 -- 186,152 (minus 22,173)
NBC5 -- 128,437 (minus 28,430)
Fox4 -- 118,614 (minus 23,155)

WFAA8 -- 74,329 (minus 6,787)
Fox4 -- 67,830 (minus 10,055)
NBC5 -- 57,989 (minus 18,001)
CBS11 -- 57,779 (minus 22,901)

Comments: The across-the-board drop-offs will re-activate alarms at all four stations. Ratings point erosion accounts for some of that, but growing numbers of viewers clearly are finding other 10 p.m. alternatives. CBS11 again had a total viewers lead-in advantage from the 9:45 to 10 p.m. portion of network programming. But WFAA8 likewise inherited a significant edge from ABC in the 25-to-54 demographic.

It also should be noted that WFAA8 "won" in both of these measurements in May 2011 by "throwing out" its final night's newscast and re-titling it a tornado special. Had WFAA8 not opted to take a knee and protect its lead, CBS11 would have been a paper-thin No. 1 a year ago in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
NBC5 -- 95,989 (minus 694)
Fox4 -- 93,076 (minus 24,869)
WFAA8 -- 85,150 (plus 35,562)
CBS11 -- 30,551 (minus 10,518)

Fox4 -- 51,369 (minus 23,316)
WFAA8 -- 46,102 (plus 10,126)
NBC5 -- 46,102 (minus 1,399)
CBS11 -- 14,956 (minus 3,933)

Comments: WFAA8 couldn't quite get over the hump in either measurement, but clearly is the station with the early morning momentum. A saturation comedy campaign on behalf of co-anchor Ron Corning has paid big tune-in dividends, but viewers then have to like him enough to stay tuned.

NBC5 took the overall 6 a.m. crown despite a patchwork lineup that still isn't entirely settled. That's quite an accomplishment. Fox4 sustained serious year-to-year audience losses that will have to be addressed immediately. And CBS11 can't go much lower. A year ago, it trailed third-place WFAA8 by just 8,519 total viewers. Now that gap is 54,599 viewers. It's a complete disaster for a station that for a time appeared to be gaining some traction in the early morning but has skidded back into a quarry.

The 5 to 6 a.m. portions of these newscasts had the same respective winners -- NBC5 and Fox4. WFAA8's Daybreak then bounced considerably higher than its competitors in the 6 to 7 a.m. hour.

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 140,833 (minus 20,051)
NBC5 -- 111,569 (plus 1,451)
CBS11 -- 109,944 (minus 47,823)
Fox4 -- 103,441 (minus 40,683)

Fox4 -- 51,850 (minus 19,883)
WFAA8 -- 49,413 (minus 12,783)
NBC5 -- 28,077 (minus 6,749)
CBS11 -- 14,475 (minus 21,220)

Comments: CBS11 had been running strong at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but dropped off the map in this latest sweeps. And its 25-to-54 drawing power is now sub-abysmal. NBC5 was the only station to show even a minimal year-to-year audience gain among the four stations. The two winners, WFAA8 and Fox4, both hemorrhaged viewers from year-to-year. It leaves the Peacock as the only station in halfway decent shape at this hour. But it can't crow. It can only peep.

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
NBC5 -- 123,492 (plus 7,566)
WFAA8 -- 117,463 (minus 27,076)
Fox4 -- 105,947 (minus 12,898)
CBS11 -- 58,731 (minus 60,460)

Fox4 -- 49,202 (minus 14,734)
WFAA8 -- 44,989 (minus 3,258)
NBC5 -- 36,172 (minus 4,961)
CBS11 -- 14,986 (minus 20,306)

Comments: NBC5, which trailed first-place WFAA8 by 28,603 total viewers in May 2011, made its own lead-in bed with a 4 p.m. local newscast that nearly tied Fox4's syndicated Judge Judy for first place. WFAA8, on the other hand, declined to launch a local newscast in place of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Its replacement part, Dr. Oz, ran a distant third behind Fox4 and NBC5.

NBC5 is the only station with even a hint of momentum in this news slot. CBS11 is at the opposite end of that teeter-totter, with a stunning loss of 60,460 total viewers from May to May.

In other May 2012 sweeps news ratings of note:

***Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast demolished CW33's one-hour alternative by a score of 176,127 to 13,548 in total viewers and 81,251 to 6,019 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

***In a role reversal, the 7 to 9 a.m. portion of Fox4's Good Day was beaten by both NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America in total viewers. Fox4 moved up a notch to second place, behind front-running GMA, among 25-to-54-year-olds.

***The CBS Evening News, anchored by former WFAA8/NBC5 reporter Scott Pelley, ran fourth in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds. ABC's World News nipped NBC's Nightly News for first place in total viewers, with Fox4's local half-hour in third place. Among 25-to-54-year-olds, Fox4 pulled into second place behind the league-leading World News.