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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., April 26) -- "sweeps" start, with everyone feeling a draft

The NFL draft on ESPN squared off against all-new episodes on the broadcast networks Thursday during night one of the May "sweeps" ratings period.

And the annual meat market beat everything in its path -- except CBS' The Big Bang Theory -- among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

Idol peaked between 7:45 and 8 p.m., when McKinney's Hollie Cavanaugh dodged yet another "Bottom Two" bullet in making it to the show's Final Five. It had 147,306 viewers in the 18-to-49 range during those 15 minutes while averaging 131,294 for the full hour.

But the draft gave Idol a big chill, pulling in 153,710 viewers in the 18-to-49 range between 7:45 and 8 p.m. while logging 137,699 for the full hour.

Big Bang beat both the draft and Idol from 7 to 7:30 p.m. with 137,699 viewers in the 18-to-49 demographic. The runners-up had 121,687 viewers each before both of them walloped CBS' plunging Rules of Engagement (just 54,439 viewers in the motherlode demographic from 7:30 to 8 p.m.).

The draft's entire three-and-a-half hours averaged 118,485 viewers of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

Idol and CBS' 8 p.m. episode of Person of Interest were Thursday's overall biggest draws with 338,705 total viewers apiece. The draft averaged a nice-sized 209,997 between 7 and 10:30 p.m., with a peak draw of 284,512 between 7:30 to 7:45 p.m. That's when the Dallas Cowboys moved up from the No. 14 to No. 6 position to spoil all prognostications from a massive array of draft "experts."

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks' afterthought final regular season game at Atlanta drew a piddling 60,967 faithful opposite the draft.

NBC's special live episode of 30 Rock ran sixth in total viewers from 7:30 to 8 p.m. with just 74,515. It improved to a third place tie with Rules of Engagement among 18-to-49-year-olds, beating The CW's Vampire Diaries and ABC's Missing while losing to Idol and the NFL draft.

NBC's 9 p.m. episode of Awake was the least-watched attraction on the Big Four networks, with a scant 47,419 total viewers. NBC5's following 10 p.m. newscast more than doubled that total but still couldn't pull out of a fourth place hole.

Aided by The Mentalist (257,416 viewers), defending February "sweeps" champ CBS11 won comfortably at 10 p.m. in total viewers. CBS11 added a 10 p.m. first among 25-to-54-year-olds, edging Fox4 in this main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The 6 a.m. golds were split between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. spoils went to Fox4 and NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 outright with 25-to-54-year-olds.