Thanks to Peyton Manning and Sean Penn, Sunday’s 60 Minutes had the biggest audience of anything on TV so far this season, not including sports.
With a lead-in of the Denver Broncos-Pittsburgh Steelers game, which was the highest-rated Sunday AFC Divisional Playoff game in 21 years, 60 Minutes delivered 20.62 million viewers in live +same day ratings. By comparison, TV’s number one comedy, The Big Bang Theory hit a season-high 17.2 million in December (which increased to 23 million with Live +3 day). The Golden Globes telecast on NBC drew 18.5 million earlier this month.
The huge audience–the biggest since December 16, 2012–put 60 Minutes in the No. 4 slot overall, topped only by three NFL programs: Saturday night’s Packers-Cardinals NFC playoff game on NBC, the Post-game of the Steelers-Broncos game, and the Packers-Cardinals kickoff show.
The return of The X-Files after the NFC Championship game Sunday FOX could top last week’s 60 Minutes, as will the upcoming Grammy Awards and Oscars broadcasts, but for now the CBS News magazine can wear the 2015-2016 TV ratings crown.
Sunday’s edition featured a Lesley Stahl‘s story about espionage against U.S. companies carried out by the Chinese government, Charlie Rose‘s interview with Sean Penn about Penn’s secret meeting with captured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and Bill Whitaker‘s report on mountain lions living in the hills above Los Angeles.