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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 22-24)

Sunday night's 80th annual Oscar ceremony on ABC may have hit an all-time ratings low in D-FW.

The three hour, 21 minute ceremony averaged an 18.9 Nielsen rating (460,328 homes), significantly down from last year's 24.1 rating (573,580 homes).

(Note that a Nielsen rating point was worth 23,800 homes in February 2007. Adjusted for yearly inflation in the number of TV homes, each point now equals 24,356 homes, according to Nielsen Media Research. The 460,328 total is based on the lower number of homes.)

The Oscars also dropped more than three ratings points among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

Even so, the Jon Stewart-hosted trophy give-away easily vanquished everything in its path, nearly tripling the total homes audience for the most-watched competing program (CBS11's 10 p.m. news with 165,621 homes).

The Dallas Mavericks early evening road win against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, which was ending just as the Oscars began, drew 63,326 homes on Fox Sports Southwest.

Barbara Walter' annual 6 p.m. Oscar warmup show lured 146,136 homes, losing to CBS' competing 60 Minutes (168,056 homes) in that measurement but winning among 18-to-49-year-olds by a more than two-to-one margin. But the end of Fox's NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Fontana, CA handily beat both of them.

On Friday, NBC's premiere of the Dennis Miller-hosted game show Amnesia bombed with just 70,632 D-FW homes from 8 to 9 p.m. That put it fifth in that measurement and also among 18-to-49-year-olds. The Peacock had better not forget to cancel it soon.

Meanwhile, the local early morning news race remains way too close to call. WFAA8 returned to the 6 a.m. winner's circle in total homes Friday, edging Fox4 by just one-tenth of a rating point. Fox4 returned the favor in the key 25-to-54-year-old news programming demographic, nipping WFAA8 by two-tenths of a point.

With just three weekdays to go in the February sweeps, either station could win, lose or draw in both competitions.

WFAA otherwise ran the table at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. At the latter hour, the real race is for second place in total homes between NBC5 and CBS11, which drew very close to the Peacock with a comfy runnerup finish Friday.

This means that all four stations will be cracking the whip down the homestretch in their respective hot races. It could make for some wacky promos, but topless anchors still remain at least several years in the future.