'60 Minutes' lands massive numbers

CBS newsmag “60 Minutes” drew its largest audience in more than nine years Sunday for its interview with President-elect Barack Obama. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” also had strong showings on the night.

National estimates from Nielsen are subject to revision due to time-zone differences, but preliminary affiliate-based figures show “60 Minutes” averaging a huge 6.4 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 24.5 million viewers overall. The newsmag, which devoted all three of its segments to Obama, aired from roughly 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the East due to an NFL overrun that delayed the start times of all of the Eye network’s Sunday series.

The last time “60 Minutes” topped 24 million viewers was in January 1999.

The newsmag is on a bit of a roll, as the previous week’s telecast, also airing behind a big NFL overrun, drew the show’s largest aud (18.5 million) in a little more than a year and stood as the week’s most-watched primetime telecast — a distinction the venerable newsmag hadn’t held since a Michael Jackson interview put it on top in December 2003. (It should easily duplicate this feat for the Nov. 10-16 frame.)

NBC was expected to win Sunday based on preliminary estimates for its “Sunday Night Football” contest between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Game is projected to average roughly a 7.2 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 19 million viewers overall, making it the second highest-rated “SNF” game of the season, behind only the Sept. 21 matchup between the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.

It scored huge numbers, as expected, in the local markets. The game did a 34.8/49 in Dallas (the nation’s No. 5 market) and a 37.0/52 in Washington D.C. (No. 9 market).

At ABC, “Desperate Housewives” surged at 9 o’clock (prelim 6.1/13 in 18-49, 16.6 million viewers overall) to its best scores since its season premiere.

Fox was led as usual by anchor comedies “Family Guy” (prelim 4.2/9 in 18-49, 8.5 million) and “The Simpsons” (prelim 3.9/9 in 18-49, 8.5 million).

Also over the weekend, Lifetime averaged a sizable audience on Saturday (4.2 million) for the premiere of original movie “The Two Mr. Kissels,” starring John Stamos and Robin Tunney.

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