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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., July 17) -- another win/win for Rangers

The first-place Texas Rangers returned to action Tuesday, and their late-starting 6-1 win at Oakland again emerged as D-FW 's most-watched nighttime TV attraction.

Stretching until 11:49 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest, the game averaged 189,675 viewers in edging NBC's 7 to 9 p.m. edition of America's Got Talent (176,127).

Among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, the Rangers settled for a solid second place tie with Talent. Fox's Hell's Kitchen topped the field in this key demographic with 92,867 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour.

WFAA8's one-hour Belo Debate between Republican U.S. Senate candidates David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz had 81,289 total viewers in the 7 p.m. slot, with just 9,607 of them 18-to-49-year-olds. It respectively ranked fourth and fifth in those measurements opposite broadcast network programming on CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW.

That doesn't detract, however, from what came off as a model way to present a debate. Dewhurst and Cruz sat within "Pass the Peas" distance of one another while otherwise pulling out their knives. Moderator Brad Watson, host of WFAA8's Sunday morning Inside Politics program, savvily kept the combatants on topic, knowing when to interject and when to let them have at it. Dallas Morning News political reporter Gromer Jeffers, a regular on Inside Politics, served as Watson's very capable Robin. Networks and local stations around the country could learn from this.

Tuesday night also yielded a guest appearance by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on ABC's following 8 p.m. half-hour of Trust Us With Your Life, an improv variation on the network's previous Whose Line Is It Anyway?. The Belo Debate was a comparative blockbuster, with just 20,322 total viewers watching Cuban laugh it up while being twitted. That ranked it fifth in a five-horse broadcast network field, with the same ranking among 18-to-49-year-olds.

In Tuesday's local news derby proceedings, WFAA8 called the tune at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 and NBC5 shared first place with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 demographic. WFAA8 had the most total viewers at that time.

Of note at 6 a.m. was WFAA8's second straight weekday in the ratings doldrums. So much so that the largely dormant CBS11's waker upper rose up to claim third place from 6 to 7 a.m. (as well as from 5 to 6 a.m.) in the key 25-to-54 demographic. That hasn't happened in a good long while, giving CBS11's new anchor team of Brendan Higgins and Adrienne Bankert at least a ray of hope for one day at least.