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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 13)

Ratings aren't nearly what they used to be for NBC's ER, which in its prime gave NBC5's 10 p.m. newscast bounteous lead-in audiences that all but offset any shortfalls during the rest of the week.

A glimmer of that old ratings magic returned Thursday when Anthony Edwards' Dr. Mark Greene dropped in for a few flashback scenes as part of the series' 15th and final season. His appearance boosted ER to a 9 p.m. win among Nielsen's two demographic darlings, 18-to-49-year-olds and 25-to-54-year-olds. They're respectively the main target audiences for entertainment and news programming.

NBC5's now free-falling 10 p.m. newscast crashed to last place anyway in the nightly head-to-head battle with Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11. And it improved only slightly in the total viewers Nielsens, where ER ran a very close second from 9:45 to 10 p.m. behind CBS' new Eleventh Hour crime drama.

Let's take a closer look at how times have changed:

9:45 to 10 P.M. LEAD-IN (25-to-54-YEAR-OLDS)
ER (NBC) -- 112,306
Eleventh Hour (CBS) -- 106,236
Life on Mars (ABC) -- 88,024
Fox4 9 p.m. Local News -- 69,805

WFAA8 -- 112,306
CBS11 -- 97,130
Fox4 -- 66,777
NBC5 -- 60,706

Eleventh Hour (CBS) -- 205,933
ER (NBC) -- 199,290
Life on Mars (ABC) -- 192,647
Fox4 9 p.m. Local News -- 126,217

WFAA8 -- 259,077
CBS11 -- 219,219
NBC5 -- 139,503
Fox4 -- 112,931

These numbers are pretty typical of the way the races have gone for the first 10 days of the November sweeps (see above post), which now have nine weekdays remaining. And unless NBC5 jet-propels its 25-to-54 numbers, it's going to finish fourth at 10 p.m. for the first time since Fox bought the then CBS-owned KDFW-TV in 1995.

Two years ago, in final results for the November 2006 sweeps, NBC5 topped the 10 p.m. field in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, with Fox4 a very distant last in both measurements.

In the February 2007 sweeps, WFAA8 ended NBC5's five-year run at the top in total viewers. And in the May sweeps of that year, WFAA8 took the 25-to-54-year-old ratings crown, too. It's been comfortably in first place at 10 p.m. ever since.

Elsewhere in prime-time Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks' latest loss, on the road to the Chicago Bulls, drew 93,002 viewers on TXA21. Over on cable's NFL Network, the New York Jets' overtime win against the New England Patriots also averaged 93,002 viewers in a limited number of D-FW homes able to get it.

ABC's Grey's Anatomy drew Thursday's biggest crowd, with 305,578 viewers at 8 p.m. opposite CBS' likewise potent CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (279,006 viewers).

Elsewhere in local news derby results, WFAA8 swept the 5 and 6 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

At 6 a.m., Fox4 won in total viewers, and tied for first place with WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.