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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 13) -- Slop-happy Cowboys bulldoze local latenight newscasts

The Dallas Cowboys' pre-season opener against Oakland lit up the late night ratings for CBS11 Thursday, even though the locals for the most part played like cowpies.

Airing from 9:09 p.m. until 12:12 a.m. Friday, the 31-10 loss averaged a dominating 531,440 D-FW viewers, peaking at 690,872 between 9:45 and 10 p.m. That compares to 489,130 viewers for last year's Saturday, Aug. 9th pre-season opener against the San Diego Chargers.

Caught in Thursday's ratings avalanche were three largely defenseless 10 p.m. local newscasts on Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8. They drew a combined 358,722 viewers, with WFAA8 leading the pack (166,075 viewers). Cowboys-Raiders had 584,485 viewers from 10 to 10:30 p.m. WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen retreated and took the night off, with George Riba subbing.

The far-flung telecast, from Oakland's half-empty Alameda County Coliseum, had recurring audio problems in the early going and at the start of a pre-game show that drew 199,290 viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. Longtime play-by-play announcer Brad Sham also seemed off his game, and sometimes a bit snippy, too, toward on-the-field correspondent Mickey Spagnola. But the Cowboys all in all were worse, particularly when the second and third teams soiled the field.

CBS11 shifted repeats of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Mentalist to sister station TXA21, where they performed relatively poorly with 86,359 and 73,073 viewers respectively. The most-watched prime-time program opposite the Cowboys game, NBC's rerun of Law & Order, had 106,288 viewers.

ABC's latest 10th anniversary edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire won at 7 p.m. with 119,574 viewers.

In other local news derby results, WFAA8 also took the three-way 10 p.m. competition among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 swept both the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. newscast battles.

At 6 p.m., CBS11 won in total viewers and Fox4 prevailed with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local programming notes: TXA21 has added to its sports roster by inking a three-year deal with the Southeastern Conference. The station will present an SEC football game of the week at 11 a.m. Saturdays, beginning on Sept. 5th. The powerhouse conference includes four teams ranked in the top 20 of pre-season polls -- defending national champion Florida (1), Alabama (5), Louisiana State (9) and Georgia (13). A total of 13 games are scheduled.

TXA21 also has rights to the Dallas Mavericks, some Cowboys pre-season games, Big 12 basketball games and next season the Texas Rangers for the debut of a Friday night Game of the Week package.

***Round 2 of Hansen vs. WFAA8 weatherman Pete Delkus is Saturday night, Aug. 15th at SMU's Wescott Field, where they'll coach Blonde and Brunette teams in the annual "Powderpuff" football game. It's for a good cause -- The Greater Dallas Alzheimer's Association. You can get all the details here.