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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Mon., Dec. 23-26) -- deflated ratings for Cowboys/Mavs blowouts

Both the Cowboys and Mavericks laid eggs under the Christmas tree, with D-FW viewers in turn tuning out.

What shaped up as a pivotal Dallas-Philadelphia matchup on Christmas Eve instead became a "meaningless" game in which QB Tony Romo sustained an early knockout. It averaged just 1,016,115 viewers locally on Fox4, barely beating the season low crowd of 1,009,341 for the previous week's win against the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers on NFL Network/CW33.

Still, Fox4 would dearly love to have this Sunday's revenue-enhancing Cowboys-Giants matchup, which will send the loser home and the winner to the post-season. Instead, the NFL played Grinch, taking the game from Fox/Fox4 and gift-wrapping it for NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Although Fox is the designated NFC network, it will end up carrying only half of the Cowboys' 16 regular season games. CBS had its usual allotment of two, ESPN's Monday Night Football and the NFL Network each got one and NBC will have had four by the time New York and Dallas finish the regular season in the national prime-time spotlight on New Year's night.

Most of the big marquee Cowboys games were on networks other than Fox this season, save for the narrow Oct. 16th road loss at New England. Fox's eight matchups included lemons against Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis in addition to the Christmas Eve crap-fest, a 20-7 Cowboys loss that basically was over before halftime.

Fox4 will end up getting just four of the last 10 regular season games. And if Dallas makes the playoffs, you can bet that NBC will want to pluck the team's first round game during "Wild Card Weekend."

It's the price of being "America's Team" and fostering a longstanding love/hate relationship with pro football fans. Networks still want any piece of the Cowboys they can get, because they remain a ratings magnet in good times and bad. In this latest season, up-and-down Dallas turned to be just good enough to play the Giants for the NFC title. So NBC pounced and left Fox/Fox4 with the equivalent of the Stillwater Pails vs. the Decatur Taters.

OK, on to the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, who looked like the Dallas Dumptrucks in their nationally televised season opener against the Miami Heat. ABC's early afternoon Christmas Day telecast averaged 453,865 viewers locally, with the Heat pasting the Mavs in a thoroughly one-sided rout.

What looked to be the no-brainer most-watched pro sports event of the day instead ran second on Sunday to NBC's prime-time Packers-Bears game, which had 494,509 D-FW viewers.

The Mavericks returned to a semblance of action Monday night on Fox Sports Southwest, where the Denver Nuggets toyed with them. Dallas' second consecutive home floor humiliation drew a paltry 94,837 viewers against ESPN's Monday Night Football matchup between the Saints and Falcons (386,124 viewers to easily rank as the day's overall top draw).

In local news derby results, Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all took day-after-Christmas holiday knees for their 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. Which means that none of the ratings officially count.

But they all played ball on Friday, with CBS11 topping the 10 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ring-a-ling-linged by running the table at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. firsts were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds.