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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., March 24) -- nice numbers for all but NBC

American Idol as usual dominated Thursday's proceedings, but audiences also warmed to ABC's hospital dramas and CBS' hoops.

The Fox cash cow drew a commanding 554,056 D-FW viewers in the 7 p.m. hour, with early favorite Casey Abrams the surprise vote-off until the judges quickly used up their one and only "save" on him. The audience is getting older, though, with a rather smallish 223,761 viewers in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. That's starting to approach Dancing with the Stars territory, at least percentage-wise.

Fox also finished first at 8 p.m. in total viewers with a new episode of Bones. But ABC's first-run Grey's Anatomy won among 18-to-49-year-olds while the network's following new hour of Private Practice tied Fox4's local newscasts at 9 p.m. in total viewers and was tops with 18-to-49-year-olds.

NCAA tournament basketball started slowly with the early evening game between Connecticut and San Diego State but perked up with Arizona vs. Duke. The late game ran second in total viewers from 10 p.m. until its post-local newscast conclusion and easily won outright in the 18-to-49 demographic. Still, the peak overall basketball audience -- 221,622 total viewers between 10:15 to 10:45 p.m. -- was well less than half that of Idol's.

NBC ran last all night among the Big Four broadcast networks with its regular Thursday comedy lineup.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 topped a downsized 10 p.m. race in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions while WFAA8 did likewise at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. golds were split between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts were preempted by basketball coverage.