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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 28) -- Idol not used to this kind of treatment

American Idol's male finalists, singing live for the first time, weren't man enough to stand up to Mark Harmon in Tuesday's Nielsen ratings.

CBS' NCIS drew 521,606 D-FW viewers from 7 to 8 p.m., drubbing the first hour of Fox's Idol (399,672 viewers). NCIS: Los Angeles then tied Idol from 8 to 9 p.m., with each show luring 413,220 viewers.

CBS then made it a prime-time sweep 243,868 viewers for its 9 p.m. hour of Unforgettable.

Idol and Fox could still claim victory, though, among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. NCIS and its spinoff were decisively beaten in that key demographic while Fox4's local newscast prevailed at 9 p.m. with a slim win over Unforgettable. And Idol might well do better Wednesday night against lesser competition and with two Texas women -- Hollie Cavanaugh of McKinney and Baylie Brown of Krum -- in the final 12.

ABC's The River and Cougar Town overall were the least-watched shows on the Big Four broadcast networks, with just 81,289 viewers apiece.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks' last second home loss to New Jersey averaged 121,934 total viewers.

Tuesday's local news derby results brought a first place in the 10 p.m. total viewers competition between WFAA8 and CBS11. But NBC5 was tops among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming) while WFAA8 slid to third.

Fox4 and the Peacock shared first place at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 alone atop the 25-to-54 heap.

NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 had the 25-to-54 win to itself.

The 5 p.m. golds were split between Fox4 in total viewers and NBC5 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Only Wednesday remains to be counted in the February "sweeps" ratings period. And at 10 p.m., NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 remain locked in an exceedingly close battle for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds. So you might experience some severe turbulence Wednesday in the form of extra-juicy prime-time teases, instant bailouts from the preceding 9 p.m. network attractions and "stories" that really aren't. There are no scheduled news desk appearances by Cirque du Soleil, though.

In the four principal four-way combat zones, there are sure winners in just four of the eight races.

CBS11 will dethrone reigning champ WFAA8 in the 10 p.m. battle for total viewers.

Fox4 again will sweep the 6 a.m. competitions, where the real race is for second place with 25-to-54-year-olds between NBC5 and WFAA8.

And Fox4 will keep its 6 p.m. gold among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Look for the complete final results Thursday on unclebarky.com.