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Ratings ups and downs for Cowboys games against Redskins/Eagles

Some readers have noted the disparities in The Dallas Morning News and Unclebarky.com ratings reports for the Cowboys games against Washington and Philadelphia.

I'm here to help.

The DMN reported Tuesday that Sunday night's game against the Eagles was seen in 838,512 D-FW households compared to a season-low 639,236 for the Thanksgiving Day game against the Redskins.

Those figures are both correct -- and only part of the story.

As posted Monday on unclebarky.com, the Thanksgiving Day game in fact had significantly more total viewers than Sunday's prime-time matchup -- by a score of 1,301,114 to 1,218,503. How could this be? Pretty simple.

No. 1 -- and we'll say it again -- the household rating has long been an antiquated measurement in the view of all major networks. They emphasize audience demographics and total viewers in their ratings reports. Why? Because PEOPLE WATCH TV, NOT BUILDINGS.

In that context, it's no surprise that the household Nielsen number on Thanksgiving Day would be lower than that for Sunday's game against the Eagles. It was, after all, a day of travel. Many homes were vacated while other homes were more populated. And in many of those homes, families and friends gathered together in larger numbers to watch the Cowboys-Redskins game.

The D-FW Nielsen numbers reflect that basic fact. And you can bet that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is more interested in how many actual people watched the Thanksgiving Day game. So far it ranks second only to the Sept. 5th season opener against the Giants, which had 1,348,046 viewers in the D-FW market.

Nationally, the NFL put out a publicity release crowing about how 28.7 million viewers watched the Thanksgiving Day game between the Cowboys and Redskins. That made it the most-watched TV program of the entire fall season to date. Note that the NFL said viewers, not households.

The release also noted that CBS' Thanksgiving matchup between Houston and Detroit had 27.3 million viewers nationally while NBC's prime-time New England-New York Jets game drew 19.2 million.

So there you have it. Hope that helps.