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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 19) -- WFAA8 flexes, then falters in four-way news competitions

WFAA8 management publicly made it very clear, after a less than stellar November 2009 "sweeps" performance, that the only ratings barometer of any real monetary worth is a newscast's standing among 25-to-54-year-olds.

By that barometer, WFAA8 had hollow victories in total viewers Thursday while again stumbling in the demographic that "all stations make a living on," in the words of president and general manager Mike Devlin. It's a pattern that's been repeated throughout the summer months, particularly with the ABC affiliate's 5 and 6 p.m. editions.

In Thursday's Nielsens, WFAA8 ran first in total viewers in both early evening news competitions. But it fell well behind front-running Fox4 in the 5 and 6 p.m. results among 25-to-54-year-olds.

At 10 p.m., WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the top spot in total viewers. WFAA8 then dropped to third among 25-to-54-year-olds, behind both Fox4 and NBC5 and just a smidgen ahead of CBS11.

WFAA8 has been making some progress at 6 a.m., though, where its Daybreak lately has been competitive with both Fox4 and NBC5. A truer test will come next week, when many North Texas students head back to school while the early morning news programs anticipate some resultant ratings spikes.

On Thursday, Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 essentially tied for first place in total viewers, with a statistically insignificant two-hundredths of a rating point between them. But WFAA8 prevailed by a narrow margin over NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds. So that's at least one win that counts in the eyes of management.

In other ratings developments, the faltering first-place Texas Rangers' fourth straight road loss, this time at lowly Baltimore, drew a second straight smallish crowd of 115,367 total viewers on Fox Sports Southwest.

Thursday night's biggest draws, Fox's NFL pre-season game between New England and Atlanta and CBS' Big Brother 12, both had 183,230 viewers.