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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Thurs., Aug. 14-16) -- West Nile virus coverage vs. pre-season football

The Fox4 newsroom found itself in a vexing predicament Thursday night. And it paid a ratings price.

While low-flying airplanes began spraying neighborhoods in hopes of curbing the West Nile virus, Fox-owned Fox4 was stuck with its network's elongated pre-season football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.

Including a totally inconsequential post-game wrapup, it stretched all the way to 10:40 p.m., delaying the station's 10 p.m. newscast beyond the end times of rival stations while completely rubbing out Fox4's 9 p.m. edition. The 9 p.m. news in particular likely would have had a high tune-in value.

Here's the tale of the tape:

WFAA8 led at 10 p.m. with 159,194 D-FW viewers, a significant jump from the 96,870 viewers who watched the last 15 minutes of ABC's Rookie Blue.

NBC5 ran a close second with 147,676 viewers, up from NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams lead-in of 127,353 viewers.

CBS11 ran third with 137,514 viewers, coming off CBS' Person of Interest lead-in of 118,547 viewers.

The 10 to 10:30 p.m. portion of Fox's NFL pre-season game drew 134,127 viewers, falling from the 9:45 to 10 p.m. football audience of 172,062 viewers.

NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 also improved on their respective networks' lead-in audiences among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The 10 to 10:30 portion of the Bengals-Falcons game lost viewers off its 9:45 to 10 p.m. lead-in. But football did draw the biggest crowd in this demographic, edging WFAA8 and NBC5 while CBS11 as usual dropped to a distant fourth.

What might Fox4 have done with its regularly scheduled 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts in place on a news night of more than a little import? We'll never know, but you can bet the newsroom would have loved to give it a try.

The pre-10 p.m. prime-time portion of Bengals-Falcons averaged 189,675 total viewers, good enough to beat all competing programming before the 10 to 10:30 p.m. drop-off kicked in. CBS' Big Bang Theory rerun drew the night's biggest crowd -- 223,545 viewers -- mostly against Fox's pre-game show.

Here are the Tuesday-Thursday local news derby results in the quartet of four-way competitions:

Tuesday -- WFAA8 nipped CBS11 at 10 p.m. in total viewers and won bit a bit larger margin among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 had the 6 a.m. edge in total viewers, with WFAA8 a paper-thin winner over the Peacock in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. and Fox4 did likewise at 5 p.m.

Wednesday -- WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 dominated among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 swept the 6 a.m. race and added 5 and 6 p.m. wins in total viewers. Fox4 took the two early evening news golds in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Thursday -- The 10 p.m. results already have been reported above. NBC5 was tops in total viewers at 6 a.m. while tying WFAA8 for the lead among 25-to-54-year-olds with Fox4 right behind and CBS11 again well back.

WFAA8 had the most overall viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. while Fox4 ran first at both hours with 25-to-54-year-olds.