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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Dec. 29 to Mon., Jan. 17) -- marathon catchup round

Fellow ratings mavens have been deprived of their weekday fixes during the waning days of the holiday season followed by your friendly content provider's journey to the annual winter network TV "press tour" out West.

We'll try to remedy that as much as possible with this fast and furious recap. Opening question: Which of these football attractions drew more D-FW viewers?

A. The Dallas Cowboys' regular season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles
B. The Rose Bowl between TCU and my alma mater, the Wisconsin Badgers
C. The college football national championship game
D. Any of the post-season NFL playoff games

While you ponder this momentous query, here's a chronological rundown of local news derby results during the four-way weekday competitions.

Wednesday, Dec. 29th
WFAA8 scored twin wins at 10 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the prime advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. Fox4 had a doubleheader sweep at 6 a.m. and also won at 5 and 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 called the tune at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 and WFAA8 tied for first in total viewers at 5 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 30th
WFAA8 logged another 10 p.m. win in total viewers but Fox4 triumphed with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 shocked the world with very rare twin wins at 6 a.m. NBC5 topped the 6 p.m. Nielsens in the 25-to-54 demographic and tied WFAA8 for first place in total viewers. Fox4 ran first in total viewers at 5 p.m., with WFAA8 winning among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Friday, Dec. 31st
All four stations went the "H" for holiday route, save for WFAA8 at 10 p.m. For the record, the station also had the largest audience at that hour with its mix of news and views from the adjacent Big D NYE party in Victory Park. WFAA8 likewise scored big with its locally produced post-newscast telecast of the festivities, peaking at a very robust 554,056 viewers between midnight and 12:15 a.m. That more than doubled the crowd for the Fox network's competing New Year's Eve party.

Monday, Jan. 3rd
WFAA8 continued its winning ways at 10 p.m. with a doubleheader sweep. Fox4 likewise ran the table at 6 a.m. while CBS11 rang up a pair of firsts at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. competitions were led by NBC5 in total viewers and CBS11 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Tuesday, Jan. 4th
CBS11 broke through at 10 p.m. with a win in total viewers while Fox4 topped the 25-to-54 scoreboard. NBC5 ran first at 6 a.m. in total viewers but yielded to WFAA8 with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 continued to flex in the early evening hours, sweeping the 6 p.m. competitions and also taking the 5 p.m. gold in total viewers. NBC5 edged CBS11 in the earlier hour among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Wednesday, Jan. 5th
Fox4 had a big day, running the table at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. The station also ran a close second at 10 p.m. to WFAA8, which claimed both golds.

Thursday, Jan. 6th
CBS11 led the parade at both 6 and 10 p.m. with across-the-board firsts. It also had the most total viewers at 5 p.m. Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. competitions and WFAA8 logged its only victory by topping the 5 p.m. ratings among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Friday, Jan. 7th
NBC5 poked through to win at 10 p.m. in both ratings measurements. It was a downsized three-way competition, though, with Fox4's late nighter pushed back by its network's telecast of the Cotton Bowl from Jerry's Palace. Fox4 ran the table for the third straight day at 6 a.m. and also won at 5 and 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. The 5 and 6 p.m. golds in total viewers were shared by Fox4 and CBS11.

Monday, Jan. 10th
WFAA8 returned to the 10 p.m. top spots with twin wins while Fox4 remained unstoppable at 6 a.m. with another sweep. CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers but yielded to Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 also ran first at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 age range and shared the 5 p.m. total viewers gold with CBS11 in an exceedingly tight four-way race.

Tuesday, Jan. 11th
CBS11 crowed with sweeps of the 6 and 10 p.m. news races. NBC5 broke up Fox4's 6 a.m. victory parade by winning in both ratings measurements. The 5 p.m. firsts went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Wednesday, Jan. 12th
WFAA8 returned to the top of the 10 p.m. competitions with twin wins. Fox4 nipped NBC5 at 6 a.m. in total viewers while the two stations shared the 25-to-54 golds. CBS11 remained strong at 6 p.m. with a doubleheader sweep. NBC5 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers and Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Thursday, Jan. 13th
Fox4 smiled all the way to the ratings bank with wins among 25-to-54-year-olds at 6 a.m. and at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. The station also ran first at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in total viewers. The other golds went to CBS11 at 10 p.m. in total viewers and WFAA8 at 5 p.m. in that measurement.

Friday, Jan. 14th
Fox4 again came up big among 25-to-54-year-olds, running the table at all four hours for the second straight day. The station added a 6 a.m. win in total viewers before CBS11 claimed the rest of the spoils with the largest overall audiences at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 17th
NBC5 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers, with WFAA8 on top with 25-to-54-year-olds. Three of the four stations took a "Holiday" designation at 6 a.m. in deference to Martin Luther King Day, with the Peacock also throwing out its 5 and 6 p.m. results. In the three way competitions at those early evening hours, Fox4 swept the 25-to-54 numbers and also ran first at 5 p.m. in total viewers. WFAA8 topped the 6 p.m. field in the latter measurement.

The four-week February "sweeps" ratings period begins on Thursday, Feb. 3rd, with all four stations now in their respective bullpens warming up. Given these recent results, Fox4 clearly is the station to beat at 6 a.m. while it looks like another close finish at 10 p.m. between WFAA8 and CBS11. The 5 and 6 p.m. races look to be wide open, with only NBC5 seemingly out of the money while WFAA8 is on shaky ground.

OK, now for those football numbers. In order of finish, here are D-FW's total viewer Nielsen results for some of this period's big games:

Cowboys-Eagles (Jan. 2) -- 1,163,518 viewers on Fox
Packers-Eagles (Jan. 9) -- 1,080,409 viewers on Fox
Jets-Patriots (Jan. 16) -- 1,066,558 viewers on CBS
TCU-Wisconsin Rose Bowl (Jan. 1) - 886,490 viewers on ESPN
Ravens-Chiefs (Jan. 9) -- 810,307 viewers on CBS
Bears-Seahawks (Jan. 16) -- 803,381 viewers on Fox
Jets-Colts (Jan. 8) -- 796,456 viewers on NBC
Texas A&M-LSU Cotton Bowl (Jan. 7) -- 754,901 viewers on Fox
Steelers-Ravens (Jan. 15) -- 747,976 viewers on CBS
Packers-Falcons (Jan. 15) -- 727,199 viewers on Fox
Auburn-Oregon National Championship Game (Jan. 10) -- 692,570 viewers on ESPN
Seahawks-Saints (Jan. 8) -- 671,793 viewers on NBC

Monday, Jan. 17th also brought the premieres of NBC's Harry's Law and CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight.

Harry's, starring Kathy Bates as a curmudgeonly patent lawyer turned criminal defense attorney, opened solidly at 9 p.m. with 277,028 total viewers. That landed it in second place at that hour behind CBS' new episode of Hawaii Five-0 (325,508 viewers). Harry's also ran second among 18-to-49-year-olds, the key advertiser target audience for entertainment programming.

Piers Morgan, with Oprah Winfrey as the lippy Brit's first guest, drew 55,406 total viewers in its first 8 p.m. outing as Larry King Live's replacement. That put it second in the cable news universe, behind Fox News Channel's Hannity (69,257 viewers) and ahead of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (20,777 viewers).

The same night's second episode of NBC's heavily promoted The Cape had just 124,663 total viewers in the 8 p.m. slot to badly trail all competing programing on the Big Four broadcast networks. Cape likewise crapped out with 18-to-49-year-olds, running an even more distant fourth.