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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., March 18-20) -- what a weekend

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Weekends don’t get much more eclectic, with TV viewers left to choose from among a wide array of drama-drenched basketball games, a largely live musical about the crucifixion, NBC’s new smash hit Little Big Shots and, of course, The Walking Dead.

Palm Sunday was the biggest staging ground. The 7 p.m. episode of Little Big Shots reigned as the most-watched prime-time attraction with 347,038 D-FW viewers while AMC’s 8 p.m. hour of The Walking Dead as usual ruled among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds (196,893).

Fox’s two-hour pop tune-infused The Passion, with host Tyler Perry presiding from New Orleans, did respectable ratings from 7 to 9 p.m. It drew 212,472 total viewers (more than for any single NCAA tournament game Sunday except Oklahoma-VCU on CBS); 76,217 viewers were in the 18-to-49 age range (better than for any of the NCAA games).

The most dramatic matchup of the day -- and the tournament -- turned out to be Sunday’s only game on obscure TruTV. Texas A&M’s miraculous rally from 12 points down with under 45 seconds to play left Northern Iowa and its fans nearly catatonic. The game then stretched to two overtimes, ending at close to 10 p.m. with A&M the victor. The closing minutes were seen by a peak crowd of 205,390 total viewers. Overall the game averaged 134,566 viewers.

Earlier in the day, on Fox Sports Southwest, 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki went off for 40 points in the Dallas Mavericks’ overtime home game against Portland. The mid-afternoon start time didn’t help. Still it’s pretty pathetic when just 35,412 viewers are on hand compared to the 49,577 tuned to TXA21’s afternoon pre-season game between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. For the record, Dirk came just one point shy of equaling Karl Malone’s 41 points, the most ever scored in a single NBA game by a player in his 37th year.

Another surprise -- from this perspective at least -- came on Saturday night, when just 113,318 total viewers were tuned to ABC’s primo prime-time matchup between the San Antonio Spurs (who remained unbeaten at home) and Golden State Warriors. Three of that day’s four CBS NCAA basketball games drew bigger crowds, led by Indiana vs. Kentucky (198,307).

Friday’s hottest ticket in town, with the rock star Warriors visiting the Mavs, ended up with not-so-hot ratings. The prime-time FSS telecast averaged 70,824 total viewers, a slightly smaller crowd than CBS’ pair of nighttime NCAA games. But the biggest overall draw was ABC’s 8 p.m. episode of Shark Tank (169,978 total viewers) while Fox’s 7 p.m. hour of Sleepy Hollow fared best among 18-to-49-year-olds (47,636).

Here are Friday’s local news derby results, with CBS11’s 6 and 10 p.m. editions again punched out by tournament basketball.

TEGNA8 drew the most total viewers at 10 p.m., but NBC5 won among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 again dominated at 6 a.m. with twin wins and the Peacock swept the 5 p.m. competitions. At 6 p.m., NBC5 and TEGNA8 tied for the most total viewers while TEGNA8 was alone on top with 25-to-54-year-olds.

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