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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., March 17) -- NBC5 leaves rivals green with envy on St. Pat's Day

NBC5's principal four local newscasts came within a hair of a very rare double grand slam Wednesday, with particularly strong showings at 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Gifted with a solid 9 p.m. lead-in from the Peacock's Law & Order: SVU (264,666 D-FW viewers to pummel a CSI: NY rerun and Ugly Betty), NBC5 comfortably ruled the 10 p.m. roost in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the favored advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 also swept the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions while winning at 6 p.m. in total viewers. WFAA8 put a pinkie in the dike by nipping NBC5 by just eight-hundredths of a rating point at 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demo. That basically amounts to a first-place tie, but it enabled WFAA8 to waylay a full-blown sweep.

Those who watched WFAA8 at 6 p.m. were treated to sports anchor Dale Hansen beginning a tease with "Rangers manager Ron Cocaine . . . " He quickly corrected himself, substituting Washington. Earlier in the day, Washington admitted to using cocaine last season, but said it was a onetime lapse. Team management covered it up and let him keep his job, but went public in the face of a Sports Illustrated story that outed Washington.

In prime-time, American Idol's one-hour vote-off show as usual topped all attractions with a commanding 481,827 total viewers. Amarillo's Lacey Brown was sent home, but Duncanville's Tim Urban dodged another eviction notice after landing in the bottom three. Urban and Fort Worth's Casey James are the two remaining North Texans among 11 contestants still standing.

TXA21's telecast of the Dallas Mavericks' home win over Chicago had a nice-sized 169,658 viewers, beating everything except Law & Order: SVU in the concluding 9 to 10 p.m. hour.