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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Feb. 21)

CNN's Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton debate from Austin had blockbuster ratings Thursday night -- at least by the cable network's standards.

The one hour, 45-minute faceoff, which began at 7 p.m., averaged a robust 138,829 D-FW homes. That exceeds the audiences for several of the night's network entertainment offerings, including CBS' Survivor: Micronesia (124,216 homes), the "enhanced" reprise of last week's Lost episode on ABC (104,731 homes) and NBC's Celebrity Apprentice (70,632 homes).

Fox's American Idol of course ruled the ratings, with the seventh edition's first vote-off drawing 336,113 homes. The network's following Don't Forget the Lyrics! also scored big (245,996 homes).

In the local news derby, D-FW's hottest race is still at 6 a.m., where Fox4 edged WFAA8 in total homes and tied the ABC station among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The two stations remain in a virtual tie in total homes, with Fox4 keeping a slight edge in the 25-to-54 demo. There are just four weekdays to go in the February sweeps, which end on Wednesday.

Also of note: CBS11's early morning show perked up to finish a rare third -- ahead of NBC5 -- in both ratings measurements.

WFAA8 held serve at 10 p.m. with twin wins. It's dominating in total homes and has a comfortable lead over the Peacock among 25-to-54-year-olds. The race for second place in total homes tightened, though, with CBS11 taking the silver medal to inch closer to NBC5.

WFAA8 easily ran the table at 5 and 6 p.m., where first place sweeps finishes are assured.