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Dallas wins time slot nationally, but is no Hatfields & McCoys in family feud division

An alternate universe version of Mavs Man made the pre-game festivities more festive before Mavs-Thunder rolled. Photo: Ed Bark

ESPN pretty much had the only game in town Tuesday night -- namely the Dallas Mavericks' opening game Western Conference Finals home win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Led by Dirk Nowitzki's 48 points and record-setting 24-out-of-24 free throws, Mavs-Thunder soared past the three-quarter million mark in averaging 803,381 D-FW viewers.

A peak crowd of 1,018,078 watched the final 15-minute increment of the game, which stretched to 10:53 p.m. thanks to referee Joey Crawford's penchant for whistle-blowing and in a sense, tooting his own horn. But it's hard to complain when Nowitzki goes to the foul line more often than Lady Gaga changes her look.

Mavs-Thunder also harvested a bumper crop of advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, with an overall average of 450,812 viewers in this key age range. Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the struggling, injury-riddled Texas Rangers barely came up for air during their road loss to the White Sox, averaging just 76,183 total viewers with 32,906 within the 18-to-49 motherlode.

The broadcast arena still did some good business Tuesday night, with CBS' NCIS getting its episode safely out of the way before the Mavericks tipped off at 8:09 p.m. NCIS drew Tuesday's biggest non-sports audience, averaging 415,542 total viewers. CBS also rode to time slot wins -- against ABC, Fox and NBC programming -- with NCIS: Los Angeles (353,211 viewers) and the season finale of The Good Wife (283,954 viewers).

ABC's Dancing with the Stars results show slumped to second place at 8 p.m., coming up short of NCIS: L.A. with 325,508 viewers.

NBC's 9 p.m. hour of its late season hot commodity, The Voice, likewise stumbled a bit by running third in total viewers behind both Good Wife and ABC's Body of Proof. But Voice again won its time slot among 18-to-49-year-olds, even though many of them by that time had abdicated to the Mavs-Thunder game. Dancing took the 8 p.m. hour in the 18-to-49 demographic, narrowly outdrawing the second hour of NBC's The Biggest Loser.

The 10 p.m. local newscast ratings were depressed -- and station managers might have been, too -- by competition from the closing stages of the Mavs game. It's the heart of the May "sweeps" after all, and you'd like viewers to sit up and take a little more notice of all those extra-special reports.

Nevertheless, WFAA had narrow wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. With six weekdays to go in the sweeps, both 10 p.m. races are still way too close to call.

Fox4 has no such worries at 6 a.m. It again rang up twin wins and is now cruising toward comfy sweeps victories in both measurements, particularly among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for first place in total viewers at 6 p.m., with WFAA8 alone atop the 5 p.m. Nielsens. But Fox4 again logged big wins at both early evening hours in the 25-to-54 demographic. It has those sweeps wins locked up, too, making Fox4 the market's demographic darlin' everywhere except at 10 p.m.