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WFAA8 retains 10 p.m. crowns while Fox4 and NBC5 reap the other newscast harvests in May "sweeps" ratings

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WFAA8 held off two strong challenges to remain in first place at 10 p.m. while Fox4 and NBC5 claimed the other major local newscast prizes in D-FW’s May ratings “sweeps.”

The biggest change from a year ago was NBC5’s jump from third to first place at 6 p.m. in the total viewers Nielsens. The Peacock also won at 5 p.m. in total viewers, defending its title from last May. Overall NBC5 showed the most year-to-year growth among the four major combatants.

Fox4 had the most first place finishes, though. It continued to rule the 6 a.m. roost, particularly among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The station also notched 5 and 6 p.m. wins in that key demographic.

CBS11 came up empty and dipped to fourth place across the board among 25-to-54-year-olds. But WFAA8 experienced even heavier bleeding at 5 and 6 p.m. For the first time in memory, WFAA8 ran last in total viewers at both of those hours.

Here are the complete results for the four-week May sweeps, which ended on Wednesday, May 21st. All totals are extended to three digits to separate the stations in exceedingly close races. For example, WFAA8 had a 2.457 rating in total viewers at 10 p.m., with each rating point worth 71,013 viewers. Year-to-year audience gains or losses are in parentheses.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 174,479 (minus 44,507)
CBS11 -- 160,986 (minus 41,685)
NBC5 -- 143,091 (plus 47,125)
Fox4 -- 123,705 (minus 14,599)

WFAA8 -- 71,998 (minus 21,251)
Fox4 -- 68,494 (minus 7,047)
NBC5 -- 68,037 (plus 20,608)
CBS11 -- 36,563 (minus 26,159)

Comments: Although WFAA8 won, a resurgent NBC5 is the only station jumping for joy with major audience increases in both measurements. Improved NBC prime-time lead-ins helped after NBC5 received no help at all from its network in May 2013. But the Peacock, now firmly housed in its spanking new studios, lately is on a roll that also has something to do with the presentation of its product. The Dallas Morning News may well have picked the right horse by becoming NBC5’s “content sharing” partner after ditching its long association with WFAA8.

Both WFAA8 and CBS11 heavily bled viewers from year-to-year. This was WFAA8’s first ratings “sweeps” period with Cynthia Izaguirre anchoring in place of the retired Gloria Campos. CBS11, which will have a new news director by the time the November “sweeps” fire up, remains in contention in the total viewers race but has fallen completely off the map with 25-to-54-year-olds. That’s going to be a very tough one to fix.

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 122,639 (minus 12,360)
NBC5 -- 111,206 (plus 33,759)
WFAA8 -- 81,452 (minus 4,119)
CBS11 -- 61,639 (minus 3,348)

Fox4 -- 77,026 (plus 591)
NBC5 -- 51,554 (plus 7,881)
WFAA8 -- 38,360 (minus 2,093)
CBS11 -- 23,309 (minus 2,537)

Comments: NBC5 again is the only station with real momentum, although Fox4 slightly “youthified” its audience while at the same losing more than 12,000 total viewers from year to year. This was WFAA8’s first sweeps period in which Alexa Conomos shifted from the traffic reporter slot to join incumbent Ron Corning at the anchor desk while Shane Allen took her spot.

But the co-anchor spot with Corning is still not definite, according to WFAA8 news director Carolyn Mungo. A different replacement for Izaguirre might yet come from within or outside the station. Or it could be Conomos after all. Whatever the case, WFAA8 is running in place at 6 a.m., as is CBS11. Neither station made any real inroads this May. But NBC5 certainly did.

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
NBC5 -- 147,352 (plus 32,661)
CBS11 -- 128,036 (minus 29,406)
Fox4 -- 117,812 (plus 13,792)
WFAA8 -- 115,822 (minus 38,109)

Fox4 -- 54,783 (plus 5,416)
NBC5 -- 47,684 (plus 10,092)
WFAA8 -- 42,687 (minus 6,442)
CBS11 -- 23,674 (minus 5,958)

Comments: This is getting a bit redundant, but again NBC5 is the station with the most momentum while Fox4 also has upped its audience by lesser amounts in both measurements. WFAA8 dropped from second to last in total viewers and from second to third in the 25-to-54 demographic. NBC5 in contrast vaulted from third to first in total viewers and from third to second among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Last May’s total viewers champ, CBS11, fell well behind the Peacock this time out. And its finish among 25-to-54-year-olds remained well behind its three competitors.

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
NBC5 -- 132,581 (plus 25,187)
Fox4 -- 118,024 (plus 19,098)
CBS11 -- 103,963 (plus 12,541)
WFAA8 -- 86,565 (minus 16,905)

Fox4 -- 45,368 (plus 5,988)
NBC5 -- 34,917 (minus 1,154)
WFAA8 -- 26,691 (minus 5,565)
CBS11 -- 22,456 (minus 826)

Comments: Fox4 had its sturdiest year-to-year performance here, showing sizable increases in both ratings measurements. NBC5 kept its crown in total viewers while also increasing its lead from May 2013. But Peacock hiccuped a bit among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 had a disastrous sweeps showing at this hour. It’s hard to remember the last time the station ran fourth in total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. But that’s what the numbers say, and WFAA8 wasn’t even all that close to third-place CBS11.

In other May sweeps ratings highlights:

*** One of the reasons for WFAA8’s dismal showing at 5 p.m. is the station’s even worse showing with its 4 p.m. local newscast. NBC5 easily won that three-way battle, with CBS11 second and WFAA8 third in both ratings measurements. Even with remote controls at the ready, programming still tends to live or die based on the strength of its lead-in. And WFAA8’s 5 p.m. newscasts inherited very little from the 4 p.m. show.

***Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast had a big May “sweeps,” running second in total viewers behind a variety of CBS entertainment programs in that hour and first among both 25-to-54-year-olds and 18-to-49-year-olds (the main advertiser target for entertainment programming). That’s highly impressive.

***At 5:30 p.m., the NBC Nightly News comfortably won in total viewers with an average of 168,869. But Fox4’s local newscast beat Nightly News by a smidgen among 25-to-54-year-olds (49,482 to 48,872).

***Some things never seem to change. CBS11’s syndicated 6:30 p.m. airings of Wheel of Fortune again rolled over the rag mags on Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8. Wheel had more than twice as many total viewers -- 248,546 -- as NBC5’s runner-up Extra (106,520). Although running third among 25-to-54-year-olds, skew-old Wheel held its own in a much more tightly bunched race. The results: Extra (54,844); Access Hollywood (45,704); Wheel (42,657); Entertainment Tonight (39,610).

***KTXD-TV’s (Ch. 47) homegrown The Broadcast remained consistent. It averaged 71 total viewers for both the 9 to 11 a.m. live edition and the 4 to 6 p.m. repeat. And the rating had to be rounded off to three digits -- 0.001 -- to get even that. We try to be fair.

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