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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Jan. 31)

Belo8 news opened the defense of its 10 p.m. title with two big knockout punches on the first day of the four-week February "sweeps."

In contrast, Fox4's defense of its 6 a.m. crown began on wobbly ground with an uncharacteristic third place finish in total homes and a second place performance among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

It was an eventful night in prime-time, too, with ABC dominating its rivals with the fourth season premiere of Lost and the debut of the new series Eli Stone. And on CNN, the first one-on-one debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton gave the all-news network its best D-FW numbers of the presidential campaign. Let's look closer.

Belo8's 10 p.m. newscast, which was Thursday's most-watched program, drew 275,223 total homes in routing runnerup CBS11 (163,185 homes). The ABC station also scored big with 25-to-54-year-olds, amassing 188,448 of 'em to win easily over second place NBC5 (138,392).

Belo8 also took two golds at 6 a.m., with its Daybreak drawing 97,424 homes and 82,446 viewers in the 25-to-54 demo. The respective second place finishers were the Peacock (77,939 homes) and Fox4's lately slumping Good Day (55,946 in the 25-to-54 age group).

The 7 to 9 a.m. portion of Good Day rebounded a bit to run a close second in both measurements to ABC's Good Morning America.

Belo8 also had twin wins at 6 p.m., and was first in total homes at 5 p.m. But NBC5 snuck in to top the 5 p.m. field among 25-to-54-year-olds.

In prime-time, Lost easily won at 8 p.m. in total homes (253,302) and with 18-to-49-year-olds (236,505), the advertiser-favored audience group for entertainment programming. Eli Stone held a good chunk of those audiences, with 226,511 homes and 173,437 viewers of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

A 7 p.m. a Lost recap likewise dominated in both measurements.

CNN's 7 to 9 p.m. Clinton-Obama debate drew 104,731 total homes, a big windfall for the network and good enough to beat the 8 to 9 p.m. portion of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, which NBC just renewed for a second season.

The Dallas Mavericks' narrow road loss to the Boston Celtics had 112,038 D-FW homes on TXA21 and another 44,284 on TNT.