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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Oct. 20)

ABC's Dancing with the Stars and CBS' CSI: Miami as usual ruled their prime-time roosts. So let's look elsewhere for some intriguing ratings info.

We'll focus on the weekday 4 p.m. slot, once ruled by The Oprah Winfrey Show. It's now a four-way race on many days, but pretty much a ratings valley for everybody. Particularly Oprah.

First let's look at the total D-FW homes Nielsens for the November 2007 ratings "sweeps":

The Oprah Winfrey Show (WFAA8) -- 126,651 homes
Judge Judy (Fox4) -- 75,504 homes
4p.m. Local Newscast and Inside Edition (CBS11) -- 70,632 and 68,197 homes
First at Four News (NBC5) -- 65,761 homes

In other words, Oprah's three competitors were in a virtual dead heat for a distant second place. And WFAA8's 5 p.m. local newscast, a runaway No. 1 last November, profited from this big gap in "lead-in" audiences.

Monday's D-FW ratings, with all four stations sticking with the same programming, show how far Oprah has fallen. And these numbers are typical of her show's performance since the fall season officially started in late September. Here are the total homes Nielsens:

The Oprah Winfrey Show -- 70,632 homes
Judge Judy -- 60,890 homes
4 p.m. Local Newscast and Inside Edition -- 56,019 and 53,583 homes
First at Four News -- 56,019 homes

Oprah's 25-to-54-year-old audience -- the principal advertiser target for news programming -- also has taken a big dip in a year's time. But her show is still a shaky No. 1 in this key demographic.

WFAA8's 5 p.m. newscast, no longer a juggernaut without The Oprah Winfrey Show setting the table, will be hard-pressed to stay on top as the November 2008 sweeps approach. NBC5 is now a major threat at 5 p.m. and Fox4 also has an outside chance to unseat WFAA8 in either total homes or with 25-to-54-year-olds. Then again, Oprah could turn up the heat in November with some "big get" interviews while Judge Judy presides over pretty much the same collection of deadbeats.

Including Monday's 5 p.m. ratings, the Peacock has won four of the last six faceoffs in the 25-to-54-demographic while also beating WFAA8 twice in the total homes Nielsens.

Monday's 5 p.m. ratings showed WFAA8 on top in total homes, with Fox4 taking second. The two stations tied for first among 25-to-54-year-olds. NBC5 uncommonly drooped to fourth place in total homes and ran third with 25-to-54-year-olds.

In the day's three other four-way news races, WFAA8 again showed it will have no problem repeating as the 10 p.m. champ. It won easily in both ratings measurements, once more shrugging off CBS11's sizable lead-in advantage from the last 15 minutes of its network's CSI: Miami.

Fox4 returned to the 6 a.m. winner's circle in the total homes Nielsens, but fell to second behind NBC5 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 as usual won at 6 p.m. in total homes. The Peacock took the gold among 25-to-54-year-olds, with CBS11 just a hair behind and WFAA8 taking a very rare tumble into third place.