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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 29) -- Cowboys flop but flex

The Dallas Cowboys trudged through their fifth and final pre-season game Thursday night before a relatively scant crowd at Jerry’s Palace.

Still, the virtually starter-free 24-6 loss to Houston had more than enough juice to dominate the prime-time Nielsens. Grinding to a close at 9:59 p.m. on CBS11, the game averaged 364,823 D-FW viewers. That’s better than the crowds for Games 2 and 3, even though the audience steadily dwindled from 413,052 viewers in the 8:45 to 9 p.m. segment to 275,368 for the closing minutes.

The strongest ratings performer opposite the Cowboys, a two-hour episode of ABC’s Motive from 7 to 9 p.m., drew a pretty sturdy 165,221 viewers. Although its performance falters among younger viewers, Motive now looks like a keeper for next summer -- or perhaps even earlier than that.

ESPN’s pair of season-opening college football games were no match for the meaningless Cowboys-Texans encounter. South Carolina and North Carolina averaged 103,263 viewers before the higher-scoring and far more competitive Mississippi-Vanderbilt matchup perked up a bit to 117,031 viewers.

CBS’ usually potent Big Brother drooped when sent to CBS11’s sister station, TXA21. BB had 103,263 viewers in the 8 p.m. hour to finish third in total viewers. It moved up to second place, behind the Cowboys, among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

In Thursday’s local news derby results, WFAA8 bucked CBS11’s strong lead-in advantage from the Cowboys to win at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming).

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

WFAA8 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m. while tying Fox4 and NBC5 for the top spot at 5 p.m. CBS11’s regular 6 p.m. newscast was rubbed out by a Cowboys pre-game show.

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