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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 29) -- address again is CBS

Led as always by The Big Bang Theory, CBS topped Thursday's prime-time Nielsens from start to finish in total D-FW viewers.

Big Bang led off with 426,820 viewers, more than doubling the audience for Fox's runner-up The X Factor (192,758 viewers for its first half-hour).

Two and a Half Men, Person of Interest and Elementary also put CBS comfortably in the winner's circle.

Big Bang and Two and a Half Men also won among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds before the 8 to 10 p.m. slot went to ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Scandal in the competition among the Big Four broadcast networks.

Over on cable's NFL Network, the Falcons' win over the Saints averaged 178,989 viewers, with 102,061 of them in the 18-to-49-year-old vortex. The 8 to 10 p.m. portion of the game ranked No. 1 among all networks in the key 18-to-49 demographic.

In Thursday's local news derby results, CBS11 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 stayed strong at 6 a.m. with twin wins and NBC5 swept the 5 p.m. competitions. The 6 p.m. spoils went to CBS11 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Nov. 28) -- Christmas special free-for-all

NBC offered its annual live Rockefeller Center Christmas special followed by a two-hour Saturday Night Live collection of holiday sketches while ABC countered with A Charlie Brown Christmas.

But CBS won Wednesday night in total D-FW viewers by decking the halls with Survivor: Philippines and a pair of crime series.

Survivor led off with 296,021 viewers to whip a game Charlie Brown (254,715 viewers) and drub the Rockefeller Center festivities (117,031).

Criminal Minds (364,863) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (337,326) then overwhelmed SNL's annual Christmas collection (172,105).

A new 9 p.m. episode of ABC's Nashville ran fourth with 117,031 viewers.

Among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, Charlie Brown rose up to win the 7 p.m. hour in a close battle with Survivor.

ABC's Modern Family then won from 8 to 8:30 p.m. with Wednesday's biggest haul of 18-to-49-year-olds before the closing half-hour of Fox's The X Factor nipped the second half of Criminal Minds. CSI prevailed at 9 p.m. in this key demographic, edging Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast while Nashville again ran an out-of-the-money fourth.

In the local news derby results, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and added 5 and 6 p.m. wins with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 led in total viewers at 6 p.m. and NBC5 had the largest overall audience at 5 p.m.

WFAA8 plays games, declares victory in November "sweeps" via cleverly camouflaged promo

WFAA8's "We're No. 1" promo during Dancing with the Stars' fall season finale began with beaming anchor A-team of Pete Delkus, John McCaa, Gloria Campos, Dale Hansen. Photos: Ed Bark

During Tuesday night's Dancing with the Stars fall season finale on ABC, WFAA8 ran a curious promo touting itself as the No. 1 station during the just-concluded November "sweeps" ratings period.

Curious because, well, WFAA8 wasn't No. 1 in total viewers in any of the four main local news competitions -- 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m. And among 25-to-54-year-olds -- the main advertiser target audience for news programming -- WFAA8 ran first only at 10 p.m.

Still, here's what viewers were told, verbatim: "Thank you, North Texas, for making WFAA the most-watched news station in North Texas -- again. Your No. 1 choice for breaking news, up-to-the-minute weather and sports. We're proud to earn your trust every day. Thank you from your friends at WFAA."

Hmm, how could this be? It just doesn't sound quite right. So let's look at the exceedingly fine print accompanying this claim. It's frame-grabbed in close-up below. Otherwise it was basically invisible to viewers.

First of all, WFAA8 really should have learned to spell Nielsen at this point. It's not "Neilsen."

Second, HH stands for households. And it's long been an antiquated measurement, the equivalent of racing a covered wagon at NASCAR. Because people watch TV, not buildings.

A further example: WFAA8's own network, ABC, made no mention at all of household ratings in a Wednesday morning publicity release headlined, "ABC Wins in Adults 18-49 with its Best Tuesday Performance of the Season."

The network also cited Dancing with the Stars' win in total viewers. And it even lauded the performances of two holiday specials -- How the Grinch Stole Christmas/Shrek the Halls -- among kids 2-11. But households? Bah, humbug!

OK, take another look at the above fine print. Notice that the combined data that WFAA8 used includes the 7 to 9 a.m. slot. There's one obvious problem with that. ABC's Good Morning America airs during those hours. And nowhere in WFAA8's promo did we see the beaming faces of George Stephanopolous or other members of the GMA crew.

Omitted, at least in the above fine print, are the numbers for WFAA8's 6 p.m. local newscast. But this likely is an inadvertent omission, because an earlier bar graph showing WFAA8's strength in overall HH numbers has a fine print attachment that includes the 6 p.m. news.

Still, why would WFAA8 use GMA to -- in effect -- fraudulently make its case. One reason is that GMA nipped Fox4's competing two-hour local segment of Good Day for the 7 to 9 a.m. time period.

But a more likely motive for including GMA is that it makes CBS11 look considerably worse in the overall HH totals. Why? because the 7 to 9 a.m. CBS network morning show continues to run a distant fourth behind GMA, Fox4's Good Day and NBC's Today.

Furthermore, CBS11 is the station that whipped WFAA8 in both households and total viewers in the marquee 10 p.m. sweeps competition. The station also eked out a win over WFAA8 at 6 p.m. in total viewers while tying for first place at that hour in households. And WFAA8 management DOES NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL. In that context, let's look at the bar graph WFAA8 put up last night.

The graph says that WFAA's average households haul per weekday was 547,000. That's based on adding up the 5 to 7 a.m. Daybreak program, GMA (urp) and the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. local newscasts. KDFW (Fox4) is a competitive second while a distant third-place KTVT (CBS11) barely holds off KXAS (NBC5).

OK, what if GMA -- which WFAA8 in reality has nothing to do with -- were removed from this mix along with the 7 to 9 a.m. programs on rival stations?

WFAA8 would total 450,312 households, with CBS11 moving up to a fairly close second (429,608) while Fox4 (424,432) and NBC5 (388,200 trail). In short, it's a much closer race.

So why isn't WFAA8 using the modern-day total viewer Nielsens? Simple. Subtract the phony inclusion of Good Morning America along with the other 7 to 9 a.m. shows and WFAA8 would be in a statistical dead heat for first place with CBS11 in the total viewer Nielsens. And among advertiser-favored 25-to-54-year-olds, Fox 4 wins no matter what sleight of hand WFAA8 pulls.

Let me add that this story wasn't prompted by anyone. I saw the WFAA8 promo just like everyone else Tuesday night. And having followed the D-FW newscasts very closely for years, it simply didn't seem to compute.

Still, why go to all this trouble? Basically because local TV news operations keep telling you what truth-seekers they are. You can count on them to bring you the facts. They're in your corner. And all that other posturing.

But when it comes to playing ratings games, no station is more duplicitous than WFAA8. The Tuesday night promo proved that anew. And you should know this. Period. End of story.

(Brian) New guy at CBS11

D-FW's CBS11 is hitting San Antonio hard lately. Its second new hire from the Alamo City in as many days is -- Brian New.

The Denver native has been an investigative reporter at KENS-TV since 2007, according to his station bio. KENS, a CBS affiliate, is owned by Dallas-based Belo Corp., also the parent company of CBS11's arch rival, WFAA8.

New is scheduled to start at CBS11 on New Year's Eve, filling the nightside spot vacated by Jay Gormley when he left the station in mid-September to become director of communications for the Dallas region of Time Warner cable. But New also will be a contributor to CBS11's investigative unit, which was further bolstered with Monday's hiring of gumshoe Mireya Villarreal-Gideon from San Antonio's WOAI-TV. KENS says that New has won six regional Emmys for various investigations.

After graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in broadcast journalism, New worked at KTWO-TV in Cheyenne, Wyoming, KVII-TV in Amarillo and WOWT-TV in Omaha, Nebraska before joining KENS.

Here's video of a New(s) "exclusive" for KENS:


Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Nov. 27) -- NCIS and DWTS pace prime-time

A new episode of CBS' NCIS drew one of its biggest crowds of this season Tuesday before D-FW viewers slid over to the Dancing with the Stars fall season finale on ABC.

NCIS led off at 7 p.m. with 502,547 viewers in crunching competition from NBC's The Voice (364,863 viewers). ABC took the bronze with a pair of holiday warm-ups, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (151,452) and Shrek the Halls (199,642).

DWTS then commanded the 8 to 10 p.m. slot, with former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft eventually taking the Mirror Ball to the tune of 378,631 viewers. CBS ran a solid second in those hours with NCIS: Los Angeles (337,326 viewers) and Vegas (261,600).

DWTS also won most of the time among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. But its opening half-hour stumbled, running third to Fox's New Girl and NBC's Go On. Both sitcoms had 108,440 viewers in this key demographic while DWTS drew 95,682 from 8 to 8:30 p.m.

The Voice easily had Tuesday's biggest haul of 18-to-49-year-olds, with 169,038 in the 7 p.m. hour.

In the local news derby results, WFAA8 rode the DWTS tail wind to dominant wins at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 nipped WFAA8 in both ratings measurements at 6 a.m. while NBC5 had a doubleheader win at 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. golds were split, with CBS11 first in total viewers and WFAA8 tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 adds to investigative unit with hiring of San Antonio's Mireya Villarreal-Gideon (updated with quotes from her)

Mireya Villarreal-Gideon, a member of San Antonio-based WOAI-TV's "Trouble Shooters" team since 2008, has been hired as an investigative reporter by D-FW's CBS11.

The Edinburg, TX native began her on-air TV career in 2004 as a weekend sports/anchor reporter for KGNS-TV in Laredo. A year later she joined the Rio Grande Valley's KRGV-TV as a general assignments reporter before moving to WOAI, San Antonio's NBC affiliate.

Villarreal-Gideon's WOAI bio says she initially attended the University of Texas-Pan American on a tennis scholarship and also considered a career in law before switching gears.

"I don't enjoy surprising people with a camera and microphone," she says on her Twitter page. "But I'll do it if it means bringing you information and stories you won't see anywhere else."

In further comments relayed by her agent Tuesday morning, Villarreal-Gideon said, "Investigative reporting is truly my passion. There are times when I am the most hated person in the room -- and I get that. It comes with the territory. My job is to be an advocate for our viewers."

She also praised WOAI as "a great place to work with great people to learn from. I hope to continue learning and adding to my 'investigative tool chest' at CBS11."

CBS11's investigative unit currently is headed by reporter Ginger Allen. CBS11/TXA21 director of communications Lori Conrad confirmed Tuesday evening that Villarreal-Gideon will start on Jan. 2nd.

Here's a brief video of Villarreal-Gideon's live standup during a spring election night.


Unger strike: WFAA8 fills another newsroom vacancy with Albuquerque reporter

Dallas-based WFAA8 continues to fill newsroom vacancies, this time hiring Todd Unger from Albuquerque's KOAT-TV as a general assignment reporter.

Unger's hiring was announced by his agent, Mort Meisner. WFAA8 news director Carolyn Mungo confirmed Tuesday that his start date at the station will be on Jan. 7th.

Unger joined KOAT, an ABC affiliate, in December 2010 after a stint at KPTM-TV in Omaha, Nebraska. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Denver.

"I like to do stories that stand up for the little guy," he says in his KOAT bio. "Everyone deserves a voice."

In late October, WFAA8 hired Jobin Panicker from Fresno's KSEE-TV and Jason Wheeler from Austin's KEYE-TV. In recent months, the ABC affiliate has lost full-time news staffers Cynthia Vega, Craig Civale and Casey Norton to public relations positions with other companies in D-FW.

WFAA8 early morning anchor Cynthia Izaguirre also is from KOAT-TV.

Here's a crime report from Unger during his time at KOAT's "Action 7 News."


Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 26) -- DWTS puts small crimp in NBC victory march

Dancing with the Stars' penultimate fall season episode knocked off the first hour of NBC's The Voice from 7 to 8 p.m. before the Peacock ran strong for the rest of Monday night.

DWTS, with Shawn Johnson, Melissa Rycroft and Kelly Monaco vying for the Mirror Ball, drew 378,631 D-FW viewers while the opening half of The Voice had 300,789.

ABC then dipped to third place from 8 to 10 p.m. with a pair of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition specials. The Voice commanded the 8 p.m. hour with 385,515 viewers before NBC's fall finale of Revolution (it won't be back until March 25th) tied CBS' Hawaii Five-0 for first at 9 p.m. Each drama had 247,831 viewers.

NBC as usual swept Monday's prime-time Nielsens among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, with the full two hours of The Voice the night's top draw with 197,743 viewers in this key demographic.

ESPN's Monday Night Football matchup of Carolina vs. Philadelphia averaged 234,063 total viewers.

Post-Thanksgiving Day weekend, the local news derby resumed in earnest after another November "sweeps" period came and went.

WFAA8 returned to battle with twin wins at 10 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 likewise swept the 6 a.m. competitions while also running first at 5 p.m. in total viewers and at 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 took the top spot at 6 p.m. in total viewers; Fox4 and NBC5 shared the 5 p.m. lead among 25-to-54-year-olds.

SOUTHFORK FETES HAGMAN -- Southfork Ranch will remember the late Larry Hagman with free tours for the public from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2nd. There also will be a "memorial reception" during which guests can leave cards and/or flowers and sign a book in his honor.

"Larry Hagman brought so much life and excitement to the show Dallas, and his dynamic personality and great sense of humor will never be forgotten," representatives of Southfork said in a statement. "The filming at the ranch has been like family coming home and we will all miss him."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs.-Sun., Nov. 22-25) -- bounteous Thanksgiving numbers for another Cowboys turkey

The Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving Day game pigged out in the D-FW Nielsen ratings despite the team's 28-3 deficit at halftime en route to a 38-31 loss to Washington.

The allure of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III likely had something to do with that. 'Cause it sure couldn't have been Kenny Chesney. Stretching all the way to 7:10 p.m. on Fox, Cowboys-Redskins averaged 1,301,114 viewers with a peak crowd of 1,418,145 between 5:45 and 6 p.m.

That makes it the regular season's No. 2 attraction, behind only the Sept. 5th season opener against the Giants on NBC. The Cowboys' upset win in prime-time averaged 1,348,046 viewers. Two of the Cowboys' 11 games this season have fallen below the one million mark.

In Thanksgiving's other NFL activities, the Houston Texans' overtime win at Detroit averaged a robust 750,378 viewers on CBS. NBC's first-ever holiday prime-time game, between the Patriots and Jets, fell to 323,557 viewers. But the Patriots already had smashed the Jets into submission by halftime.

Over on ESPN, the prime-time TCU-Texas matchup averaged 247,831 viewers.

Sunday's biggest NFL draw, the Giants' dismantling of the Packers on NBC's prime-time stage, drew 433,705 viewers. Native Wisconsinite Uncle Barky said some bad things during this blowout. Sorry.

Saturday's college football menu was paced by ABC's prime-time Notre Dame-Southern Cal game, in which the unbeaten Irish advanced to the National Championship game. It averaged 344,210 viewers while Fox's afternoon track meet between Baylor and Texas Tech pulled in 192,758 viewers.

The local news derby results were inoperative. From Wednesday through Friday, Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all took holiday "H" designations for their 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. That means they're "thrown out" by Nielsen.

As previously posted, Fox4 and CBS11 paced the November "sweeps" newscast ratings.

CBS11 news No. 1 at 6 and 10 p.m. in total viewers; Fox4 also scores in November "sweeps"

CBS11 anchors Doug Dunbar, Karen Borta drew the most viewers at 6 & 10 p.m. during the four-week November "sweeps" ratings period. Photo: Ed Bark

CBS11 again ranked No. 1 at 10 p.m. in total viewers during the November "sweeps," giving the station a sweep of the year's three major D-FW ratings competitions.

Last November's 10 p.m. champ, WFAA8, since has been runner-up to CBS11 in the February, May and November sweeps.

CBS11 also notched a 6 p.m. win in total viewers by a thin margin over WFAA8. Fox4 also is a happy warrior after sweeping the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Fox4 added a 6 p.m. first among 25-to-54-year-olds while WFAA8's lone win came at 10 p.m. in this key demographic.

The four-week November sweeps officially end after Wednesday's Nielsen numbers are in. But local stations are likely to take a holiday designation more often than not on a heavy pre-Thanksgiving travel day in which TV audiences generally are deflated. That allows them to "throw out" Wednesday's numbers.

We've again taken the numbers to the thousandths rather than tenths of decimal points to determine winners in very tight races. But all of the leads are basically safe at this point.

Here are the November sweeps results, with all four of the major combatants benefiting a bit from year-to-year ratings inflation in the total viewers measurement. Last year at this time, each full Nielsen ratings point was worth 67,741 total viewers; it now equals 68,842. But there's been a little year-to-year erosion in the 25-to-54 demographic. The value of each rating point now stands at 29,811 viewers, down from 30,093 last November. Note that numbers in parentheses reflect the year-to-year ups and downs in newscast viewership.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 210,037 (up from 201,300)
WFAA8 -- 173,757 (down from 206,300)
Fox4 -- 115,792 (up from 108,386)
NBC5 -- 111,662 (down from 115,160)

WFAA8 -- 76,137 (down from 87,270)
Fox4 -- 67,164 (up from 66,205)
NBC5 -- 56,969 (down from 60,186)
CBS11 -- 45,551 (down from 69,214)

Comment: CBS11 again benefited from the market's strongest 9:45 to 10 p.m. total viewer lead-ins via CBS network programming. But ABC furnished WFAA8 with the most 25-to-54-year-olds while NBC's final quarter hour of prime-time programming tied CBS in that key demographic.

Still, CBS11's year-to-year 10 p.m. falloff among 25-to-54-year-olds obviously is of major concern. In that respect, WFAA8 will claim victory internally, even though it also lost considerable year-to-year ground in the chase for these viewers.

The promotional advantage still goes to CBS11, though. It can tout itself as the home of D-FW's most-watched 10 p.m. newscasts. WFAA8 would have to resort to an almost invisible fine print disclaimer because it can't launch a promo saying, "We're No. 1 among the only viewers that matter." That's how you lose viewers.

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 107,118 (down from 108,386)
WFAA8 -- 85,433 (up from 74,515)
NBC5 -- 81,440 (down from 94,837)
CBS11 -- 50,117 (up from 33,871)

Fox4 -- 63,319 (down from 66,205)
WFAA8 -- 48,711 (up from 45,140)
NBC5 -- 43,107 (down from 51,158)
CBS11 -- 22,001 (up from 18,056)

Comment: Despite a little slippage, Fox4 retained its 6 a.m. crowns by sizable margins. Meanwhile, NBC5 tumbled from second to third place in both measurements, with WFAA8 now the runner-up waker-up after decent-sized gains.

CBS11 may never get to the promised land here. But at least the station showed signs of moving in the right direction (particularly among total viewers) with its new anchor team of Brendan Higgins and Adrienne Bankert.

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 153,380 (down from 169,472)
WFAA8 -- 146,840 (up from 121,934)
NBC5 -- 117,789 (up from 115,160)
Fox4 -- 106,980 (down from 128,708)

Fox4 -- 54,882 (down from 57,177)
WFAA8 -- 52,974 (up from 45,140)
NBC5 -- 41,616 (up from 39,121)
CBS11 -- 22,597 (down from 33,102)

Comment: Neither of the victors can be overly thrilled here. CBS11 lost a sizable chunk of its audience and barely held off WFAA8 in total viewers after dominating a year ago. And WFAA8 came within an eyelash of dethroning Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11 still suffers from the market's overall weakest network news lead-in -- Texas native Scott Pelley's CBS Evening News. But it still profits from big "lead-out" ratings from Wheel of Fortune, particularly among total viewers. Had WFAA8 kept Wheel of Fortune, instead of rejecting it as "too old" seven years ago, it no doubt would still be No. 1 at 6 p.m. And probably by a very sizable margin in total viewers.

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 115,379 (down from 121,934)
NBC5 -- 112,419 (down from 121,934)
WFAA8 -- 91,904 (up from 88,063)
CBS11 -- 89,839 (down 115,160)

Fox4 -- 43,733 (down from 54,167)
NBC5 -- 30,795 (down from 39,121)
WFAA8 -- 30,288 (down from 33,102)
CBS11 -- 22,746 (down from 30,093)

It's a pretty miserable time period for all concerned. All four stations lost viewers from a year ago in the 25--to-54 demographic. And only WFAA8 gained a relative handful of total viewers while still ranking a pretty distant third.

In other ratings news . . . WFAA8's syndicated Katie, which airs from 4 to 5 p.m. as an early evening news lead-in, averaged just 48,189 total viewers in the November sweeps. That put it fourth behind Fox4's double dose of Judge Judy (89,495 and 117,031 viewers) and the one-hour local newscasts on NBC5 (82,610) and CBS11 (61,958). Katie inched up to third with 25-to-54-year-olds, ahead of CBS11.

***CW33's new comedy-infused 9 p.m. Nightcap news hour averaged 15,971 total viewers opposite Fox4's 9 p.m. news (148,974 viewers).

***KTXD-TV's (Ch. 47) The Texas Daily barely got out of "hashmarks" territory (no measurable audience) in its inaugural sweeps month. The 8 a.m. live telecast averaged 1,101 viewers while the 6 p.m. repeat pulled in 3,404.

Another new locally produced KTXD program, Texas Living averaged 1,239 viewers in the 11 a.m. hour. This is a market of 6.842 million viewers. So there's pretty much nowhere to go but up.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 19) -- prime-time gold for NBC while Fox4 prospers with local news numbers

NBC again scored where it counts the most Monday, sweeping the prime-time D-FW Nielsens among advertise-prized 18-to-49-year-olds with its regular lineup of The Voice and Revolution.

The Voice also nipped ABC's competing Dancing with the Stars among total viewers (298,086 to 293,267) before the 9 p.m. hour went to ABC's Castle.

ESPN's Monday Night Football contest between the dominant 49ers and suddenly toothless Bears averaged a lower than usual 206,526 viewers while the Dallas Mavericks' OT loss to Golden State clocked in with 68,842 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest.

Monday's local news derby numbers were dominated by Fox4, which won at 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming). The station added 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. wins in total viewers.

CBS11 overcame a double-pronged lead-in disadvantage from its network's third-place Hawaii Five-0 to win at 10 p.m. in the total viewers measurement. NBC5 ran first in total viewers at 5 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Nov. 16-18) -- Cowboys slog past Browns, slip below one mil mark

Going to overtime against the Browns inflated Sunday's Dallas Cowboys ratings. Still, they averaged fewer than one million D-FW viewers for the second time this season.

The CBS telecast, which stretched to 3:50 p.m., drew 984,441 viewers with a peak crowd of 1,239,156 between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m. Dallas won 23-20 in a penalty-filled, boo-marked contest in which the lowly Browns held Dallas scoreless at halftime.

Jerry's team had gone almost two full seasons averaging more than one million viewers per game. But that streak ended on Oct. 21st, when the Cowboys drew 950,020 viewers for their luster-less road win against Carolina.

The Thanksgiving day game against Washington, with Redskins QB Robert Griffin III returning to Texas, should re-inflate the Cowboys' Nielsen numbers. But this is a very troubling sign if you're Jerry Jones. Two of his team's 10 regular season games now have dipped below the magic one million mark. And without Sunday's 4th quarter and OT dramatics, Cowboys-Browns might well have fallen short of 900,000 viewers.

NBC's Sunday Night Football game between the Ravens and Steelers averaged 419,936 viewers to outdraw ABC's competing American Music Awards (296,021 viewers).

Over on AMC, The Walking Dead had 227,179 viewers in the 8 p.m. hour. An imposing 156,281 of them were in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 age range. That's a huge percentage.

In contrast, Part 1 of Ken Burns' The Dust Bowl averaged 117,031 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday on KERA13. Just 6,379 of them were 18-to-49-year-olds.

In Friday's local news derby numbers, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. With just three weekdays remaining in the four-week November "sweeps," those two stations are virtually locked in as the respective winners in these two audience measurements.

Fox4 firmed its tight grip on the 6 a.m. competitions with a doubleheader win while also running first at 5 and 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 had the most total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 15) -- big showings for CBS/CBS11

CBS has been flexing all week in prime-time, but Thursday's Nielsens gave the network its first double-pump.

The regular lineup of Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Person of Interest and Elementary swept the 7 to 10 p.m. ratings in both total viewers and advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. Winning in the latter measurement is a big bonus for CBS, which still tends to be a tune-out in this key demographic.

Big Bang as usual led the way with 426,820 total viewers and also again was CBS' biggest draw among 18-to-49-year-olds. That's typical. But Person of Interest's 18-to-49 win over ABC's Grey's Anatomy was pretty much out of the ordinary.

Fox's 7 to 8 p.m. results edition of The X Factor ran a solid second in its time slot while ABC's The Last Resort and NBC's 30 Rock and Up All Night were largely overlooked. Last Resort performed particularly poorly among 18-to-49-year-olds, running fifth in the 7 p.m. hour behind CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW's Vampire Diaries.

In the local news derby results, CBS11 made its best showing in recent memory with four first-place finishes. The station won at 6 and 10 p.m. in total viewers while tying NBC5 for first in that measurement at 5 p.m. CBS11 also logged a very rare 5 p.m. win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 kept its strong November "sweeps" grip on the 6 a.m. Nielsens by again running the table. It also placed first at 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 had Thursday's other gold, topping the 10 p.m. competition in the 25-to-54 demographic.

LOCAL NEWS NOTE -- Fort Worth-based NBC5 won the Lone Star Emmy for "Overall Station Excellence" at the chapter's 10th annual awards ceremony. Stations in all of Texas' 19 TV markets are eligible for the award.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Nov. 14) -- near sweep for CBS while X Factor falters

CBS continued to prosper in prime-time, with its regular Wednesday lineup sweeping the Nielsens in total D-FW viewers while holding its own with advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

Survivor: Philippines won the 7 p.m. hour with 220,294 total viewers before CBS drew prime-time's biggest overall crowd with Criminal Minds (323,557 viewers). CSI: Crime Scene Investigation then easily won its 9 p.m. slot with 275,368 viewers.

CSI also ran first with 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC's The Middle and Modern Family respectively won their 7 and 8 p.m. hours in this key demographic. The second half of Criminal Minds had the most 18-to-49-year-olds from 8:30 to 9 p.m. while Fox's X Factor nipped Survivor from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

It was the only good news of the night for Simon Cowell's would-be cash cow. The entire two hours of X Factor averaged just 158,337 total viewers. In its 8 to 9 p.m. portion, X Factor ran behind both Criminal Minds and NBC's Law & Order: SVU. The Middle and Modern Family also outdrew X Factor in total viewers.

ABC's Nashville, which earlier this week received a full-season order, likewise continued to struggle in D-FW. It placed fourth at 9 p.m. in both total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds.

The CW's biggest bright spot this season, Arrow, came close to beating X Factor from 7 to 8 p.m. in the 18-to-49 demographic. And it did beat NBC's sitcom combo of Whitney and Guys with Kids, plus ABC's Neighbors (which dug a ratings valley between Middle and Modern Family).

In Wednesday's local news derby results, Fox4 chalked up six of the available eight wins while CBS11 had the other two.

Fox4 won at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The station added 6 and 10 p.m. firsts in the 25-to-54 measurement.

CBS11 took the total viewer golds at 6 and 10 p.m.

NO 'NIGHT IN THE LIVES' FOR WEDNESDAY -- The late night newscasts on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 were more or less one and the same on Nov. 14th, with all four paying major attention to the big water main break off I-35 and Dez Bryant's "anger management" deal with the Dallas County D.A.'s office. And no single enterprise story stood out enough to merit further attention.

Maybe this whole "Night in the Lives" enterprise isn't worth any further time and effort during the dwindling days of this particular ratings "sweeps" period. Besides, I've got Ken Burns' four-hour Dust Bowl documentary film to watch and review before its Sunday premiere.

Enough said.

An affair to forget on WFAA8 news

WFAA8 anchor John McCaa didn't much care for the question on left. Photos: Ed Bark

WFAA8 anchor John McCaa didn't have to say much. In fact, he probably would have preferred dropping through a trap door near the end of his station's Monday 5 p.m. newscast.

Struggling in the ratings at that hour and bedeviled by usually dinky lead-in ratings from the preceding Katie, WFAA8 occasionally goes to extremes in order to lure and keep an audience.

On Monday's edition, the self-appointed "Family First" station posed an "Instant Poll" question that seemed unfit for a newscast. Namely, "Have you been tempted to cheat with a co-worker?" Viewers were encouraged to respond and then wait for the climactic results. As you can see from the above frame-grab, 57 percent of respondents answered "Yes."

I'm kind of surprised by that," said co-anchor Shelly Slater. "Are you surprised by that?"

"No," said McCaa. "I'm frankly surprised we asked the question."

An off-camera chortle or two kicked in before Slater added, "Jerry Springer here on Channel 8."

Viewers were told that assistant news director Chris Berg submitted the question. But news director Carolyn Mungo sets the tone at WFAA8. And as far as viewer input and social media go, "I adore it. I embrace it," she said at a recent gathering of the D-FW market's five women news directors.

Rival stations likewise have gone head over heels for Twitter and Facebook. Or so it often seems. But not yet to the point of asking their viewers to chime in on the tabloid-y subject of workplace affairs.

Mungo has not responded to an email sent early Wednesday morning asking if she had any second thoughts about WFAA8's decision to pose that question on a newscast. But McCaa clearly wanted no part of it. And he had the gumption to say so on the air.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., Nov. 13)

NBC5 tried to sell viewers on Mark Cuban's wrath. Photo: Ed Bark

A pair of "Who cares?" clinkers pockmarked Tuesday's D-FW late nighters.

Both got prominent play anyway down the backstretch of the November "sweeps" ratings period, which ends on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

On NBC5, co-anchor Brian Curtis teased, "You have to hear why billionaire Mark Cuban is so fired up."

After a top-of-the-newscast weather alert -- it will be chilly again early Wednesday -- longtime Night Ranger Scott Gordon documented Cuban's displeasure with an alleged Facebook plan to charge him $3,000 to reach one millions purveyors of his Dallas Mavericks' fan page. Or something like that.

Cubes didn't respond to an interview request, but NBC5 offered up a tweet in which he said, "FB is blowing it? This is the first step. The Mavs are considering moving to Tumblr or to new Myspace as primary site." Wow, talk about your cataclysmic events.

Facebook tweeted back: "To be clear -- we did not change news feed so we could charge to promote posts." And so on.

The resourceful Gordon has been pounding the after-dark pavement for NBC5 since television's Paleolithic Age. And there's no one better at hammering home a crime report. He occasionally gets stuck with stuff like this, though. And in reality, who among us is the least bit concerned about Cuban possibly having to part with the pocket change that $3,000 represents to him? For that matter, the guy gets "fired up" with the regularity of a clock striking midnight.

Over on CBS11, investigative reporter Ginger Allen tried to stir up taxpayer outrage over what co-anchor Karen Borta termed "rock star parking" for prominent Tarrant County judge Glen Whitley. He's inherited the free on-street parking space previously reserved for the late Tom Vandergriff, a North Texas legend whose achievements included bringing the Rangers to Arlington. Vandergriff got the gratis downtown Fort Worth parking spot during his declining years, when health problems made it difficult for him to get around in his position as a Tarrant County judge.

Allen, to her credit, interviewed Whitley, who seemed like a reasonable guy. He said the parking space is a perk that enables him to attend numerous off-site meetings without wasting additional time. Allen also noted that County Commissioner J.D. Johnson gets a free spot for his once-a-week meetings in downtown Fort Worth. Johnson has health problems, Allen reported. And in reality, the taxpayer tab for his free parking is minimal, she said.

"But the folks we talked to say it's not the cost, it's the principal," Allen told viewers. Actually she talked to just one folk on camera, an elderly lady named Earline Cooper who gets around with help from a walker. Someone who has a good job "shouldn't expect benefits," she said.

After the report, Allen told CBS11's news anchors that more eye-opening information on parking meter revenues is on the station's website. Viewers shouldn't have to look further for basic information that her on-air investigation could and should have included. But I looked anyway. And a short paragraph buried within the text of Allen's report says that an average of $660 a year is collected from each of Fort worth's 2,500 parking meters. But in "high traffic areas," that can increase to $1,500 a meter.

Allen's story singled out just one such meter being used for free at least five days a week. This is a hardly the stuff of a taxpayer revolt, but certainly worth some taxpayer yawns. Trumped-up, heavily promoted investigations unfortunately are all too common in ratings sweeps periods. This one easily could serve as one of many Exhibit A's in high and college journalism classes.

Fox4's 9 p.m. news furnished the night's best collection of worthy stories.

There's nothing new, for instance, about robberies caught on surveillance cameras. But this one was exceptional. Reporter Natalie Solis led the newscast with a piece on 25-year-old T Mobile store manager Rene Grimes, who was beset by two gun-wielding thugs intent on seizing cell phones. Television is largely all about pictures. And the vivid unfolding of this robbery, caught from start to stop, showed Grimes' grace under extreme pressure. At one point she literally threw cell phones at the robbers in hopes of both getting them out of the store and protecting her employees and customers from any harm. She then briefly chased after the two robbers, who remain at large.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else," Grimes told Solis.

The story clearly showed Grimes viewing the surveillance video with Solis. But co-anchor Steve Eagar, in his followup Q&A, nonetheless asked Solis, "Has she seen the video?"

Pay closer attention, Steve. Instead anchors regularly rely on pre-scripted questions under such circumstances. They're usually questions that should have been answered during the report itself -- and sometimes are. But anchor "involvement" is seen as a selling point to viewers. So these oft-extraneous exchanges probably aren't about to change any time soon.

Fox4 also had an interesting story by Dionne Anglin. She reported on North Texas youth pastor Leon Reyes' ongoing 30-day effort to live as a homeless person in order to both walk in their shoes and call attention to their everyday wants and needs. Reyes, now on Day 13, otherwise lives in Southlake with his wife and their child.

"I'd learn enough in the first night, I think," Eagar said while bantering with co-anchor Clarice Tinsley.

The previous practice of Fox4 anchors doing extended in-studio interviews with newsmakers appears to be on hold for now. Some of these worked very well, others fell flat. The upside is more air time for reporters in the field, allowing them to expand rather than contract. A downside can be those aforementioned anchor-reporter Q&A's.

Tinsley, lately filling in for regular 9 p.m. anchor Heather Hays, also would be wise to temper her cheerleading and keep at least a little distance.

"Leon, you rock," she said of the minister immersed in the homeless life. "You did an awesome job, Rene," she said of the T Mobile manager. After 34 years in this market, shouldn't the dean of D-FW news anchors know better than this? But no.

WFAA8 had a mostly forgettable newscast Tuesday night, save for early morning anchor Cynthia Izaguirre's extended and affecting "Then and Now" report on twin boys who were born four months early and spent 199 days in the hospital under mostly life and death circumstances.

Jake and Josh are 10 years old now. Both bear the scars of their surgeries, but are otherwise active and in relatively good health.

"R-e-e-e-eally happy, to make a long story short," Jake said. "Really happy. To be here."

And that seems like a good way to wrap up Tuesday.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Nov. 13) -- three-way split for prime-time spoils

CBS' standard Tuesday night crime-palooza ran the table in total viewers but advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds split their votes in D-FW.

Venerable lead-off hitter NCIS edged NBC's The Voice at 7 p.m. by a score of 399,284 total viewers to 351,094. CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles then held 100 percent of the audience to reign at 8 p.m. before the network's Vegas took the 9 p.m. hour with 289,136 viewers.

The Voice had more than twice as many 18-to-49-year-olds viewers as NCIS, though. And the Peacock's Go On handily won in this demographic from 8 to 8:30 p.m. before the second half of NCIS: Los Angeles nipped Fox's The Mindy Project.

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast then won that hour, with ABC's Private Practice ranking second with 18-to-49-year-olds.

CW33's comedy-infused Nightcap news hour ran a distant fifth at 9 p.m. in total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds. But in both cases it held its lead-in audience from the CW network's Emily Owens, M.D.. And Nightcap's percentage of 18-to 49-year-olds is more than decent. Of the show's 20,653 total viewers Tuesday night, 15,947 were in the 18-to-49 age range.

WFAA8's syndicated Katie, airing at 4 p.m., fell short of Nightcap's 18-to-49 haul with 12,758 viewers in this key demographic. The 5 p.m. local newscasts on WFAA8 and CBS11 also had fewer 18-to-49-year-olds than Nightcap, according to Nielsen data.

At the other end of the spectrum, KTXD's (Ch. 47) 8 a.m. Texas Daily is still struggling to reach any viewers at all, let alone its target audience of 50+ baby boomers. Tuesday's edition again had "hashmarks" (no measurable audience).

In the four-way local news derby results, CBS11 racked up another total viewers win at 10 p.m. while again finishing well out of the money
with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for most news programming. WFAA8 topped that measurement, with Fox4 a fairly close second.

Fox4 remained strong at 6 a.m., winning in both ratings measurements. It had more 25-to-54-year-olds (92,414) than any other local newscast Tuesday, including the 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. editions on Fox4. Also of note: CBS11 inched into third place at 6 a.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic, knocking NBC5 into fourth place. The two stations tied for third place in total viewers while WFAA8 took second in both measurements.

NBC5 fared better in the early evening, tying CBS11 for first in total viewers at 5 p.m. and winning outright at 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers and Fox4 paced the 5 p.m. ratings among 25-to-54-year-olds.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Mon., Nov. 12)

Freeze frame: CBS11's Larry Mowry joins his weathercasting colleagues in leading off Monday's late-nighters. Photo: Ed Bark

It's the home stretch of the four-week November "sweeps" ratings period, which ends on the day before Thanksgiving.

So with election day and its aftermath fading from view, we rejoin D-FW's major TV news providers and revive unclebarky.com's long-running "Night in the Lives" feature. Stamina providing, we'll follow the weekday late nighters on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 from now through next Tuesday. In Fox4's case, that's the hour-long 9 p.m. newscast instead of the 10 p.m. edition, which basically is still a condensed regurgitation.

Little changed Monday night in terms of what gets top play whenever possible. The old "If it bleeds it leads" maxim long has given way to "If it drizzles it sizzles." Or variations thereof. Anything to get the weather front and center.

All four stations thereby acted in unison Monday, leading their newscasts with warnings of a big chill and possible freeze in many parts of the North Texas viewing area.

"The temperatures are already falling fast," NBC5 co-anchor Brian Curtis said with relish before turning it over to meteorologist Rick Mitchell. This is his first ratings sweeps period as the station's featured 10 p.m. forecaster, with D-FW weather dean David Finfrock segueing to earlier shifts en route to his planned retirement well down the road in 2018.

WFAA8's Pete Delkus warned of possible frosty temps while withstanding the elements "out on the patio" near the station's Victory Park studios.

CBS11 co-anchor Doug Dunbar twitted the "madness" of some Keller residents who were "braving the chill" in order to be among the first to buy the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which went on sale at midnight. He then threw it to meteorologist Larry Mowry and his urgings to protect "pipes, pets, plants, people."

Fox4 likewise led with its weathermeister, Dan Henry, and his assortment of freeze warnings. More than ever, changes in the weather are the principal selling points of local newscasts far and wide. Viewers get much of their news elsewhere these days. But a lot of them still dial up Dan, Rick, Pete and Larry for up-to-the-minute info on any imminent rain, snow, sleet, hail, high winds or temperature spikes. Station news directors act accordingly by double or triple-dipping whenever possible. Weather up top, the regular weather segment two-thirds of the way through and weather to close the show.

WFAA8 otherwise had the night's best news stories. Reporter Monika Diaz led the way with an extended, informative look at an oil boom-spiked job surge in the Midland/Odessa area. The offshoot is a severe housing shortage and price-gouging that affects current residents.

The station's David Schechter likewise had an interesting story on a North Lake Community College training exercise in which teachers were taught to literally gang up on campus terrorists. But some students were unaware of the exercise and made frantic 9-1-1 calls after they heard shots being fired.

WFAA8 promoted the story in an unfortunate manner, with co-anchor John McCaa telling viewers of "shots at school" while sounds of gunfire led to two fresh bullet holes in an accompanying graphic behind him. This is other known as shooting yourself in the foot with an over-the-top come-on.

Over on NBC5, veteran reporter Kevin Cokely had the best weather tie-in. Would a cold-weather snap serve to kill off the mosquitoes behind the West Nile virus? "Temperatures are dropping, Kristi," he told co-anchor Kristi Nelson (who's filling in for Meredith Land during her maternity leave). "But don't expect mosquitoes to drop like flies along with them."

Not a bad word play, with Cokely going on to explain that many of these mosquitoes will survive by burrowing into the ground or bushes. And when the weather warms back up, they'll be back.

Fox4 reporter Natalie Solis contributed the night's best heart-warmer. She documented efforts by Good Shepherd Episcopal School students on behalf of Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey. The kids solicited money and food donations before a Good Shepherd teacher and his crew drove to New Jersey to distribute the proceeds. On-location video then enabled students to see the tangible results of their efforts. Very nice -- picture-wise and otherwise.

Brandon Todd, Fox4's Fort Worth correspondent, did a good job with a story on the city's feral cat situation and an innovative "trap, neuter, return" program that seems to have all parties satisfied. Plus, viewers got to see Fuzz the feral cat happily eating a daily meal provided by a neighborly woman.

Both Fox4's Becky Oliver and CBS11's Jason Allen had stories on alleged substandard care by Veterans Hospitals. In each instance, VA officials promised to bolster their staffs and make things better. They seemed to genuinely mean it, and both reporters left cheap shrillness out of their pieces.

We'll close with a couple of ways not to use "social media," which is becoming almost as addictive as weather changes in many TV news rooms.

CBS11 spent a good deal of time ogling pictures of the Dallas Mavericks dancers in their new and somewhat scantier uniforms. Facebook comments were solicited and one respondent said, "The people that have a problem with their uniforms sound like the same group that thinks Hooters is a strip club."

Sports anchor Babe Laufenberg then rejoined, "I didn't know it wasn't." Dunbar put his head in his hands while the off-camera stagehands laughed it up. Dunbar later closed the newscast by telling Laufenberg, "I've got the chairman of Hooters on the phone."

Over on Fox4, longtime anchor Clarice Tinsley subbed for Heather Hays while also continuing with her nightly "Your Turn" segment. This is where Facebook-ians address a station-supplied topic, which on Monday night was the plummeting temperatures.

Mary Jane Medlock got the last word with her Facebook comment, which Tinsley read in full. Said Medlock: "I am sitting in my recliner with a heated blanket over me sipping on a hot beverage watching my friends on Fox News. Ahhhh, perfect evening."

"Mary Jane, thank you so much," Tinsley replied. "We feel the warmth and we feel your love."

Pardon me for feeling nauseous. And that's a wrap for Monday.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 12) -- NBC remains on roll

Enjoying Mondays while it can, NBC rolled to a prime-time sweep with another two hours of The Voice followed by the freshman hit Revolution.

Both shows are leaving soon, with The Voice's two-hour fall season finale set for Dec. 18th while Revolution will be shelved for four months after two more November episodes. The eventual replacements, until late March, are The Biggest Loser (urp) and the new drama series Deception, which won't arrive until Jan. 7th.

In the heady here and now, though, The Voice drew Monday's biggest D-FW crowd (357,864 viewers) before Revolution won its 9 p.m. slot with 247,831 viewers. Both NBC attractions also ranked No. 1 from 7 to 10 p.m. among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, with Revolution even edging the 9 to 10 p.m. slice of ESPN's Monday Night Football (Steelers vs. Chiefs) in both ratings measurements.

ABC's Dancing with the Stars ran second in total viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. with 309,789 of 'em. But it mostly fell to third among 18-to-49-year-olds behind The Voice and three of CBS' four sitcoms. DWTS beat CBS' first-year Partners from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks' home loss to the injury-riddled, lowly Timberwolves averaged just 82,610 viewers. Monday Night Football averaged 234,063 viewers for the full game, which went into overtime.

In Monday's local news derby results, the 10 p.m. spoils were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25--to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 also swept the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions. At 6 p.m., NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the top spot in total viewers while WFAA8 had the gold to itself in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Nov. 9-11) -- interest wanes as Cowboys win survival game against Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys' do-or-die win against Philadelphia, spurred by the defense and special teams, took a tumble ratings-wise from the two previous losses to Atlanta and the Giants.

Running until 6:37 p.m. on Fox, Cowboys-Eagles averaged 1,087,704 D-FW viewers. That's a significant drop-off from the 1,280,461 who watched NBC's prime-time loss to the Falcons and the 1,218,503 for the Giants game on Fox. But at least Dallas stayed above the one million mark after falling short for the first time in almost two years with the Oct. 21st win at Carolina (950,020).

NBC's rain-soaked defense-dominated slugfest between the Texans and Bears had Sunday's second biggest football audience. A total of 516,315 viewers watched Houston move to 8-1 while Chicago dropped to 7-2. Also on Sunday, the Bengals-Giants game on Fox averaged 433,705 viewers while CBS' competing Broncos-Panthers game lagged with 220,291.

Saturday's football ratings were paced by Texas A&M's big upset win over Alabama and the emergence of quarterback Johnny "Football" Manziel as a full-blown national star. The game averaged 399,284 viewers on CBS. Fox's following Kansas State-TCU game came in second with 192,758 viewers while ABC's competing Notre Dame-Boston College matchup had just 89,495.

On Friday night, the second episode of ABC's Reba McEntire-fronted Malibu Country remained solid with second place finishes at 7:30 p.m. in both total viewers and advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. CBS' second half-hour of Undercover Boss won in both measurements, but Malibu Country again ranked as ABC's most-watched Friday night show.

CBS' 9 p.m. episode of Blue Bloods again drew the night's most total viewers (296,021).

In Friday's local news derby numbers, CBS11 romped at 10 p.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 had the edge among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept both the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions. The 6 p.m. wins went to WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Thurs., Nov. 7-8) -- deepening problems for Last Resort, Nashville

Two of the new season's most critically praised serial dramas, both on ABC, are burrowing into deeper ratings ditches.

Thursday's 7 p.m. episode of Last Resort drew just 123,916 D-FW viewers to finish fourth in its time slot. The two top powers in that hour were CBS' The Big Bang Theory (399,284 viewers) and NBC's The Voice (316,673 viewers).

On Wednesday, Nashville fell to 110,147 viewers in the 9 p.m. hour. That also made it No. 4 in its time slot, with CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation the frontrunner with 261,600 viewers.

Worse yet, both Last Resort and Nashville likewise lagged among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. Last Resort fell to fifth, with The CW's Vampire Diaries taking the No. 4 spot. Nashville stayed in fourth place, but its 9 p.m. CW opposition was CW33's new comedy-heavy Nightcap news, which for the first time registered "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) in this key demographic.

The D-FW ratings for Last Resort and Nashville are pretty much replicated nationally. At this point, that makes both shows long shots to see second seasons. One of Nashville's direct competitors, NBC's new Chicago Fire, has just received a full-season pickup.

Fox's The X Factor also is having a tough time making its voices heard. Thursday's one hour 7 p.m. installment was walloped in D-FW by The Voice and CBS' competing sitcoms in both the total viewers and 18-to-49 measurements.

Wednesday's two-hour X Factor got beaten by The Voice from 7 to 9 p.m. and by CBS' Criminal Minds in the 8 p.m. hour. And among 18-to-49-year-olds, it trailed The Voice, Criminal Minds and ABC's 8 p.m. episode of Modern Family. Nonetheless, Fox already has green-lighted X Factor for a third season next fall.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, WFAA8's opening night of the three-part medical series Dallas Hope drew 75,762 total viewers to run fifth in its time slot. CBS11's syndicated Wheel of Fortune as usual led with 254,715 viewers.

Here are the local news derby results:

Wednesday -- CBS11 had a comfortable win in total viewers at 10 p.m., but Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 also ran the table at 6 a.m. and added a 5 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m. NBC5 took the 25-to-54 gold at 6 p.m. and tied Fox4 for the top spot at 5 p.m. in total viewers.

Thursday -- CBS11 again reigned at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but this time WFAA8 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 made it two clean sweeps in a row at 6 a.m. while NBC5 led at 5 p.m. in both ratings measurements.

The 6 p.m. firsts went to WFAA8 in total viewers and the Peacock among 25-to-54-year-olds.

News note: Former NBC5 anchor Michael Scott, of "Leapin' Lizards" infamy, is having off-camera problems as well. He was arrested Thursday by Omaha police on a charge of misdemeanor domestic assault. Further details are here.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Nov. 6) -- election night spectacular

It's 1 a.m. Do you know where your President is? Photo: Ed Bark

Fox News Channel led the prime-time election ratings returns in D-FW before the ratings power shifted dramatically in late night. Deploying hand calculator technology, we first give you the 7 to 10 p.m. breakdown.

Fox News Channel -- 302,905 viewers
NBC -- 261,600
ABC/CNN -- 185,873 each
Fox broadcast network -- 172,105
Univision -- 144,568
MSNBC -- 130,800
CBS -- 110,147
PBS -- 34,421

That's an impressive showing by the three cable news networks, with MSNBC drawing more total viewers than CBS while Fox News Channel and CNN had two of the top four ratings performances. The Big Four broadcast networks no longer command the lion's share of the nation's -- or D-FW's -- attention on election or national political convention nights.

The 10 to 10:30 p.m. slot was largely yielded to local newscasts. NBC5 had the most viewers in this arena with 296,021, followed by WFAA8 (275,368), Fox 4 (234,063) and CBS11 (103,263).

However, this also was the time period in which all networks projected President Obama's re-election over challenger Mitt Romney. And Fox News Channel remained the top overall draw from 10 to 10:30 p.m. with 316,673 viewers. CNN had 275,368 viewers and MSNBC, 130,800.

OK, let's skip ahead to the 11:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. slot for a final tabulation. Romney took the stage at 11:55 p.m. to make his brief concession speech and President Obama began taking his victory lap at 12:39 a.m. and spoke until 12:58 a.m.

Here are the D-FW viewer totals for this 75 minute increment:

NBC/CNN -- 151,452 each
ABC -- 130,800
MSNBC -- 117,031
Fox broadcast network -- 110,147
CBS -- 75,726
Fox News Channel -- 48,189
Univision -- 34,421
PBS -- 13,768

Fox News Channel went from No. 1 in prime-time to No. 7 when their candidate lost. These numbers might well have been reversed had the outcome been the opposite. FNC may have topped the late night Nielsens had Romney instead been giving a victory speech. And Obama's network, MSNBC, likely would have experienced a significant tune-out. Instead MSNBC had more than twice as many viewers than FNC in this 75-minute increment while FNC doubled MSNBC's audience in prime-time.

CNN, which comparatively plays it down the middle, fared the best overall among the three cable news networks with a third-place tie in prime-time and a first-place tie in late night. CBS had a miserable ratings night all around.

Three-part Dallas Hope a PR plus for Baylor

WFAA8's Steve Stoler and former newsroom colleague Craig Civale. Photo: Ed Bark

Former WFAA8 reporter Craig Civale already has renewed ties to his old station in his new post as senior public relations consultant for Baylor Health Care System.

Civale, who left the Dallas-based station in June after five-and-a-half years, is busily promoting Dallas Hope, a three-part series about a trio of cancer survivors. WFAA8 is airing it in half-hour segments at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, 15th and 17th. Former WFAA8 sports anchor-reporter Tony Martinez (a Peabody winner for his ESPN SportsCentury look at Jim Thorpe) wrote and directed the series in tandem with Kevin Spivey, his partner at Frisco-based Silver Horn Entertainment.

Current WFAA8 reporter Steve Stoler also attended a recent screening and reception at Baylor's T. Boone Pickens Cancer Hospital in Dallas. Stoler, a 15-year survivor of Hodgkins lymphoma, told attendees he's living proof that cancer is "not a death sentence."

Stoler was diagnosed at age 39 while reporting for Dallas-based KDFW-TV (now known as Fox4). That station's former medical reporter, John Hammarley, did a series of stories documenting Stoler's treatment and recovery.

The cancer survivors featured in the Dallas Hope series are 30-year-old Michelle Berndt, 25-year-old Cherysse Daniels and 78-year-old Bill Bradford.

Introducing a screening of the first two parts of Dallas Hope, Martinez stressed that it's not a commercial for the hospital and that "no one at Baylor changed any of the editorial content."

Not that they have anything to worry about. All caregivers are models of compassion and competence during the first two half-hours. And patient Berndt says "Thank you, Baylor" while leaving the hospital after surgery.

Dallas Hope basically is Baylor's answer to Children's Med Dallas, a five-part series that aired on WFAA8 in the late summer of 2011. As such, it's uplifting, educational and also an open invitation to put yourself in the good hands of these all-caring facilities if the need should ever arise.

There's nothing particularly wrong with that, and the pre-emptions of Entertainment Tonight are an added bonus.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 5) -- Peacock again crows with 18-to-49-year-olds

NBC continued to make Mondays its own, sweeping the prime-time Nielsens among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds in the Big Four Broadcast network arena.

The Peacock's lineup of The Voice and Revolution easily whipped first-run programming on ABC, CBS and Fox in this key demographic. And The Voice also again outdrew ABC's Dancing with the Stars in total D-FW viewers by a score of 275,368 to 247,831. Both competitions drew smaller crowds than usual.

ABC's Castle put a pothole in NBC's victory parade by edging Revolution in total viewers (206,526 to 199,642). CBS' Hawaii Five-0 continued to be third choice in the 9 p.m. drama division, tying Fox4's local newscast with 158,337 viewers.

The Dallas Mavericks' home court rout of Portland drew 75,726 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest while ESPN's Monday Night Football faceoff between the Saints and Eagles averaged 275,368 viewers. The 9 to 10 p.m. portion of MNF beat all broadcast network programming in both total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds.

The third edition of CW 33's comedy-laced Nightcap hit a new low with 6,884 total viewers in the 9 p.m. hour. However, that actually was an improvement over the shockingly dinky numbers for The CW's preceding Gossip Girl, which had 1,377 viewers. Can that be right? Nielsen says it is.

In Monday's four-way local news derby results, WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers but NBC5 won among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. and added a 5 p.m. victory in total viewers. Monday's other golds went to WFAA8, which swept the 6 p.m. competitions and also was tops at 5 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Nov. 2-4) -- Cowboys raise ratings while sinking lower

The increasingly woeful Dallas Cowboys again lost a game they easily could have won, this time on the NFL's biggest stage.

Their eighth consecutive defeat on the actual Sunday night edition of NBC's Sunday Night Football averaged 1,280,461 D-FW viewers, up from the 1,218,503 who endured last Sunday's last-second home loss to the Giants.

This time the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons whipped Dallas 19-13 in the Cowboys' second of three scheduled prime-time appearances on NBC. The season-launching Wednesday night "kickoff special," in which Dallas upset the Giants, remains the biggest draw this season with 1,348,046 viewers for NBC's Sept. 5th telecast.

The Cowboys as always eclipsed everything in their path Sunday night. The next most-watched competing attraction, CBS' The Good Wife, had 185,873 viewers.

Earlier Sunday, CBS' Pittsburgh Steelers-New York Giants matchup averaged a very nice-sized 598,925 viewers. In the battle of the noon-starting early games, Fox's Panthers-Redskins game (357,978 viewers) outdrew CBS' Texans-Bills faceoff (247,831 viewers).

ESPN's afternoon coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway attracted comparatively scant interest with an average of 68,842 viewers.

Saturday's college football parade was led by two matchups. CBS' prime-time game between Alabama and LSU and ABC's afternoon matchup between Texas and Texas Tech each averaged roughly 261,600 viewers. But Bama's last-minute comeback win over LSU by far had the biggest peak audience, with 440,589 viewers between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m.

ABC's prime-time Kansas State-Oklahoma State game had 117,031 viewers, taking the silver ahead of Fox's Oregon-USC matchup (89,495 viewers).

Over on Fox Sports Southwest Saturday night, the Dallas Mavericks' victorious home opener win against the Bobcats trailed all three prime-time college football attractions with 75,762 viewers.

In the Friday night Nielsens, CBS' season premiere of Undercover Boss had 227,179 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour to run first against ABC's second season launch of Tim Allen's Last Man Standing (151,452 viewers) and the debut of Reba McEntire's Malibu Country (206,526 viewers).

CBS' Blue Bloods as usual drew the night's biggest overall crowd, with 282,252 viewers from 9 to 10 p.m.

Malibu Country had Friday's biggest haul of advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, though. So that's a very good sign for this throwback sitcom, which was critically panned but may well have the last laugh.

NBC's very nicely done one-hour Hurricane Sandy telethon ran third from 7 to 8 p.m. in total viewers (110,147) but fell to fourth in the 18-to-49 demographic.

CW33's second edition of its comedy local newscast, Nightcap, had just 13,768 total viewers in the 9 p.m. hour after inheriting 55,074 from the closing 15-minute segment of The CW's Nikita.

The falloff was significantly sharper percentage-wise among 18-to-34-year-olds, principal target audience for both the CW network and Nightcap. Nikita furnished 28,489 viewers in this age range before Nightcap fell to 5,027.

In Friday's four-way local news derby results, CBS11 had a solid first-place finish at 10 p.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 won by an equally comfy margin among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 swept the 6 a.m. competitions while NBC5 notched 5 and 6 p.m. wins in total viewers. Fox4 took the two early evening races in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Nightcap springs itself on CW33

Nightcap hosts Spencer Harlan, Danielle Vollmar and Amanda Salinas Photos: Ed Bark

OK, just what was that exactly?

Thursday's launch of CW33's Nightcap oftentimes made the Texas State Fair midway seem like the Dallas Aboretum's Chihuly exhibit.

The scrapping of the station's more or less "traditional" 9 p.m. newscast -- and the terminations of most staffers -- has yielded a 9 p.m. presentation that on opening night was wildly inconsistent but also had some plusses. One got the feeling this would be an entirely different animal when an opening rundown of the show's activities made an "Oh Lancie Poo" reference to embattled biker Lance Armstrong.

Modeled after the Dallas-based, Tribune-owned station's early morning, hijinks-spiked Eye Opener program, Nightcap dawned with three co-hosts.

One of them, Amanda Salinas, is familiar to CW33 news watchers. She was co-anchor of the previous 9 p.m. newscast and is under contract with the station until January. After that, who knows?

Nightcap also is deploying Eye Opener's very willing Danielle Vollmar, who does the weather segment as well in place of
the departed Rebecca Miller. Vollmar actually is a meteorologist, and has done forecasts at previous stations. So she pretty much knows her way around a chroma-key map but perhaps could use a little more fashion moxie. Her mega-baggy blue dress on Thursday's Nightcap made Vollmar's upper attributes look saggier than Paul Ryan's smile. But what do I know? I'm no licensed Mr. Blackwell, just a wise ass.

Host No. 3 is cute, tiny-ish actor/comedian Spencer Harlan, who perhaps is in the Witness Protection program. He was never identified at all during the show. He just popped in to join Salinas and Vollmar after a cold open in which Harlan took fake offense at "Opera Shots," a Fort Worth Opera gambit in which patrons can get sloshed to the sounds of tenors and sopranos.

"This is a circus!" he shouted. "What the hell are they thinking?!"

That goes double for Nightcap during its numerous messier moments. Such as when Mark Cuban's even more hyperkinetic younger brother, Brian Cuban, showed up to yell and gesticulate about "The Cuban Revolution."

"I love to rant," he revealed. "But I love to rant with a purpose . . . I think the Cuban Revolution is gonna be a great show!"

Really? When? Where? Brian has a blog that he calls The Cuban Revolution. And his "Legal Briefs" segments air periodically on Eye Opener. But no mention was made of either while co-host Harlan stood next to Brian, trying (and failing) to insert jokes. Overall impression: Those Cuban boys must have over-dosed on an earlier form of Honey Boo Boo juice during their formative years.

Nightcap's non-stop zippy graphics were impressively mounted for the most part. Except that they regularly lacked one essential -- identification.

An elongated piece on political advertising -- which actually was well-shot and edited -- never identified the reporter quizzing veteran Dallas-based political consultant Brian Mayes.

A ludicrous piece on celebrities posing naked with fish (in an effort to curb over-fishing) went without any ID of the constantly on-camera reporter. She ended by telling viewers "I'll be doing sexy shoots with fish sticks to raise awareness." (See below collection of pictures.)

An AT&T U-verse segment on Halloween-themed technology likewise never bothered to name its telegenic young reporter. It cut off prematurely, taking viewers directly to a commercial for the new animated movie Wreck-It Ralph. Just as well.

Let's also observe a moment of silence for poor holdover reporter Barry Carpenter, who's possibly twice as old as some of his new colleagues. He amazingly was identified on-screen, but otherwise literally semi-hid himself in the shadows while talking about the ins and outs of "consumer confidence." Hang in there, Jedediah. It can only get . . .

Viewers of the first Nightcap also were afflicted with "Ask Tammy Manners," during which a dude in drag lounged in bed and said that his/her blog "quickly became a viral sensation -- not like Syphilis or anything." Just to be safe, I moved a bit farther away from the TV screen.

OK, on to the reasonably good stuff.

A "Fat Guy Fitness" segment, by "Lorenzo," had him traipsing off to a Southlake trampoline gym for some bouncing around. Pretty funny. Beats another miracle diet story.

Holdover reporter Daniel Novick's report on Love Field's newly enlarged passenger check-in area was inventively put together. And newcomer Charlie Berens showed some promise with his comedic take on Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz. His closer: "I ask you, who needs the future when we have Ted Cruz?"

Nightcap went without any goodbyes from its hosts. Instead it tacked on a five-minute Small Time talk show parody that seemed longer because much of it played dead. Save for the "Bachelor Cooking" segment in which a guest made toast from scratch and then spread peanut butter on it while one of the show's two co-hosts marveled. Bombing was fake music "legend" Ian Stevens, whose bit never got untracked.

Nightcap averaged 17,211 viewers on opening night, with the audience dropping in each quarter hour. It had a lead-in of 26,848 viewers from the closing 15-minute segment of The CW's Beauty and the Beast, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In CW33's target demographic --18-to-34-year-olds, -- Nightcap registered "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) for its closing 45 minutes after luring 4,692 in the opening 15 minutes. So that's a turn-off from those viewers that the station cares about most.

Still, Nightcap gets a grudging overall grade of C-minus from this grizzled, out-of-the-demo reviewer. It wasn't all bad but it's going to take a lot of work and imagination to make it really any good. The old CW33 prime-time newscast had been in a death rattle for years, thanks in major part to escalating mismanagement during news director David Duitch's disastrous four-year tenure.

Nightcap in reality is a last gasp on the part of a station whose "newsroom" now is led by "director of content" Larissa Hall. She used to run Eye Opener, which in fact has made some headway among younger viewers. Nightcap faces a tougher task in the last hour of prime-time. And dozens of former CW33 staffers are now out on the streets while Salinas last night touted a "different kind of news" in which "Lancie Poo" is very much smiled upon.

Here are some other sights from opening night of Nightcap.

One of Nightcap's several unidentified reporters kinda sucks.

Veteran Barry Carpenter went for a Phantom of the Opera look.

"Ask Tammy Manners." Better yet, don't.

Kinda liked this kid. He's comedian Charlie Berens.

The hosts of the Nightcap-capping Small Time.


Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 1) -- CMAs pace prime-time, with pockets of resistance from CBS

ABC's three-hour Country Music Association awards squared off against CBS' potent Thursday lineup, with twang getting the overall bigger bang.

But CBS' The Bigger Bang Theory had something to say about that, opening the night with a 7 to 7:30 p.m. win among D-FW viewers. Ranking as Thursday's single most-watched TV attraction, Big Bang had 371,747 viewers to the CMAs' 275,368 in this half-hour segment.

Country got stronger from 7 to 7:30, whipping CBS' Two and a Half Men by a score of 316,673 to 282,252.

CBS' Person of Interest then won the 8 p.m. hour by a paper-thin margin of 323,557 viewers to country's 316,673.

The CMAs squared accounts in a big way from 9 to 10 p.m., with its last hour drawing 371,747 viewers opposite CBS' Elementary (261,600).

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, the CMAS fell to CBS' comedy combo in the 7 p.m. hour before beating Person of Interest and Elementary from 8 to 10 p.m.

Fox's 7 to 9 p.m. edition of The X Factor ran a distant third all night in total viewers while running second from 8 to 9 p.m. with 18-to-49-year-olds. That knocked Person of Interest into third in this key demographic.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 coughed up its lead-in advantage from the CMAs to run a close second in the 10 p.m. total viewers race behind CBS11. But WFAA8 enjoyed a comfy win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 a.m. and added a 5 p.m. win in total viewers. CBS11 ran first in total viewers at 6 p.m. while Fox4 took the 25-to-54 golds at both 5 and 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Oct. 31) -- road toughening for Nashville

ABC's critically praised Nashville is doing a bit better nationally. But in D-FW it ain't no purdy picture.

Wednesday's Episode 4 drew just 123,916 viewers, improving on its lead-in from Suburgatory (96,379 viewers) but tying for a distant third with NBC's Chicago Fire in the 9 p.m. hour. CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation won the time slot with 275,358 viewers while Fox4's local newscast ran second with 192,758.

Nashville fared worse among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing only 28,705 of 'em to finish fourth among the Big Four broadcast networks. Fox4's newscast topped this field with 95,682 viewers.

Fox's The X Factor also is something less than a ratings juggernaut. Wednesday's first two-hour live edition ran second in total viewers behind CBS' 7 to 9 p.m. combo of Survivor: Philippines and Criminal Minds. It was a rout from 8 to 9 p.m., with Criminal Minds pulling in a night's best 296,021 viewers while the competing second hour of X Factor had 178,989.

X Factor narrowly won three of its half-hour segments among 18-to-49-year-olds, though. The 7 to 7:30 p.m. leader was ABC's It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

NBC virtually fell off the ratings map from 7 to 8 p.m., with its 30 Rock and Guys With Kids placing fifth in total viewers behind CBS, Fox, ABC and The CW's new Arrow. 30 Rock nipped Arrow for the No. 4 spot with 18-to-49-year-olds before Guys With Kids fell back to fifth.

In Wednesday's local news derby results, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers to main its slim lead through the first five weekdays of the November "sweeps" ratings period. But WFAA8 again prevailed with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming), where it remains the leader.

Fox4 notched a 6 a.m. win in total viewers while WFAA8 topped the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. and added a 5 p.m. gold in total viewers. Fox4 finished first at 5 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.