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‘60 Minutes’ tops TV ratings with interviews of presidential candidates

Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes."
Lesley Stahl on the CBS newsmagazine series “60 Minutes.”
(Rick Loomis / For The Times)

Sunday’s “60 Minutes” broadcast with interviews of the major-party presidential nominees and their vice presidential running mates was the week’s highest-rated prime-time program, drawing its largest audience since March 25, 2018.

The CBS newsmagazine averaged 17.4 million viewers, the most for any program since the Oscars on Feb. 9 outside of sports and multi-network programming, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday.

“60 Minutes” followed a 40-minute runover of CBS’ afternoon NFL coverage into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones. The runover averaged 25.71 million viewers.

Thursday’s second and final presidential debate of the 2020 general election campaign averaged 62.97 million viewers across 15 broadcast and cable networks, 13.9% less than the 73.13 million average for the first debate Sept. 29. Presidential debate viewership customarily drops from the first to second debate.

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As with the first debate, more viewers (15.47 million) watched Thursday’s debate on Fox News Channel than anywhere else.

Some ‘facts’ just aren’t so. That much was certain, especially for President Trump, as he and former Vice President Joe Biden met Thursday for a final debate.

The Dodgers’ 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 on Oct. 20 averaged 9.27 million viewers, erasing the previous low of 10.22 million for Game 4 of last year’s series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Each of the first five Fox telecasts of the World Series averaged fewer viewers than any World Series game on record before this year.

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The Rays’ 6-4 victory in Game 2 the following day drew 9.11 million viewers. The Dodgers’ 6-2 victory in Game 3 Friday set another record low, 8.16 million viewers. Tampa Bay’s 8-7 victory in Game 4 Saturday, when the winning run scored on an error on the final at-bat, averaged 9.33 million viewers.

The Dodgers’ 4-2 victory in Game 5 Sunday averaged 10.06 million viewers, 11th among prime-time broadcast and cable programs between Oct. 19 and Sunday, trailing “60 Minutes,” five debate-related programs and four NFL programs.

The combination of the five World Series telecasts, “Thursday Night Football” and the absence of customarily low-watched programming beginning at 10 p.m. made Fox the top-rated network, averaging 8.18 million viewers for its 21 hours, 11 minutes of prime-time programming.

NBC was second, averaging 5.82 million viewers, followed by Fox News Channel, which averaged 5.16 million, ABC, which averaged 4.59 million, and CBS, 4.37 million, all for 22 hours of programming.

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NBC had the top-ranked entertainment program, the Oct. 19 season premiere of “The Voice,” which averaged 8.21 million viewers, the most for an entertainment program during the five-week-old 2020-21 prime-time television season.

Fox News Channel was the top cable network for the 39th time in 40 weeks, averaging 5.16 million viewers. MSNBC was second, averaging 2.65 million, and CNN third, averaging 2.4 million.

The Netflix psychological thriller “Ratched” was the most-streamed program on the four services measured for the second consecutive weekly report from Nielsen released Thursday.

Viewers watched 1.63 billion minutes of the eight-episode series between Sept. 21-27. The series starring Sarah Paulson as the asylum nurse depicted in Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and 1975 film premiered Sept. 18.

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The Netflix mystery film “Enola Holmes” was second among programs streamed on Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix, with viewers watching 1.17 billion minutes in the first five days it was available.


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