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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Sun., Dec. 23-28) -- Cowboys/Yule Log edition

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The Dallas Cowboys’ 44-17 trouncing of the Washington Redskins had predictably underwhelming ratings compared to other games while still blotting out everything else in its path Sunday.

Running from noon until 3:17 p.m. on Fox, Cowboys-Redskins averaged 1,255,320 D-FW viewers, with 520,377 of them in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. That puts the regular season-ender in the lower half of the 16 games played, although Dallas had already clinched the NFC East title and was playing for the slim chance to get a first round post-season bye. That didn’t happen, meaning the Cowboys will square off against the Detroit Lions Sunday at 3:40 p.m. on Fox.

The most-watched attraction opposite the Cowboys, CBS’ Chiefs-Charges game, drew just 62,766 viewers.

Six of this season’s Cowboys games drew more than 1.5 million viewers and just one fell below the 1 million mark. Last year, three games averaged few than 1 million viewers and three drew in excess of 1.5 million. The significant improvement is due largely to the Cowboys’ own improvement, from 8-8 to 12-4. But in the 2013 season, each ratings point was worth 71,013 total viewers while this year’s point value declined to 69,740, according to the new Nielsen Media Research estimates of homes with TV sets in the D-FW viewing area.

The Cowboys’ followup act Sunday, Fox’s telecast of the Green Bay Packers win over the Detroit Lions for the North Division title, racked up a very nice-sized 829,906 viewers. That demolished CBS’ competing Carolina Panthers-Atlanta Falcons game, which had 83,688 viewers.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals easily paced all prime-time programming with 446,336 viewers.

OK, let’s rewind to the second annual joint presentation of the flaming, fireplace Yule Log by TXA21 with music from KLUV (98.7 FM). The Log took on expanded responsibilities this season, airing from 7 p.m. Christmas Eve to 5 p.m. Christmas Day. Last year’s inaugural Log fired up on 10 p.m. Christmas Eve before flickering out at 9 a.m. on Christmas Day.

The Yule Log burned brightest in the D-FW Nielsens from 2:15 to 2:30 p.m. on Christmas Day. It attracted 48,818 viewers in that increment. And that was enough to outdraw competition from the Queen Latifah talk show on parent station CBS11 (20,922 viewers from 2:15 to 2:30 p.m.); NBC5’s The Steve Harvey Show (34,870); Fox4’s Dr. Oz (20,922); CW33’s Steve Wilkos Show (13,948); and MY27’s Dish Nation (20,922).

That’s not bad for an unchanging burning stack of wood accompanied by Christmas carols. The Yule Log met its match, though, with ABC’s 2:15 to 2:30 p.m. portion of the San Antonio Spurs-Oklahoma City Thunder game, which had 202,246 viewers.

For its entire running time, the Yule Log started slowly but then drew more than 20,000 viewers in 19 separate 15-minute segments on Christmas Day. And it saved some of its best for last, pulling in 41,844 viewers during its concluding 4:30 to 5 p.m. half-hour. TXA21’s 5 to 5:30 p.m. edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire then fell to 20,922 viewers.

By the way, last year’s Yule Log peaked at 28,405 viewers in its closing half-hour. So this year’s final flickers showed an increase of 13,439 viewers while the 48,818 high point from 2:15 to 2:30 p.m. marked an increase of 20,413 viewers over last season’s ratings peak. The public knows what it wants.

In local news derby results, the four major combatants all took holiday knees from Wednesday through Friday. So those numbers aren’t officially counted.

Here’s Tuesday’s scorecard:

CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. but Gannett8 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions while CBS11 had the most total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. The 25-to-54 golds in those hours went to NBC5 at 5 p.m. and Gannett8 at 6 p.m.

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