While NBC’s ‘Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly’ won in the 24-54 demographic, CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ won the overall ratings with 6.5 million viewers

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CBS’ “60 Minutes” edged out the heavily promoted premiere of NBC’s “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly” in the ratings.

But the new program led by the former Fox News star finished ahead of CBS in the audience group sought by advertisers, a strong showing for Kelly’s new program.

CBS led NBC in overall audience, with “60 Minutes” scoring 6.5 million viewers in the 7 p.m. hour, according to Nielsen data. However, NBC’s “Sunday Night,” which pulled in 6.1 million viewers, finished ahead of “60 Minutes” in viewers age 25 to 54, the demographic used by advertisers who buy time on news programs. “Sunday Night” averaged a 1.2 rating in that group, topping a 0.9 for “60 Minutes.”

A rating point represents a percentage of the 25- to 54-year-olds in the U.S. TV audience.

Kelly’s program, which featured a sit-down interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was given a major promotional push by NBC leading up to the premiere. Clips of the interview, conducted last week in St. Petersburg, Russia, appeared on other NBC News programs. A box touting “Sunday Night” appeared in the corner of cable network MSNBC’s screen throughout the weekend. NBC News colleagues tweeted the start time for “Sunday Night” on their personal social media accounts.

A major push was needed to dent “60 Minutes,” an entrenched habit for many Sunday viewers, averaging 12.4 million viewers a week during the 2016-17 TV season, the 49th for the program. Ratings are typically lower during the late spring and summer when fewer people are home to watch on Sunday evenings.

NBC News executives and Kelly had played down early ratings expectations for “Sunday Night,” noting that the CBS show has been the time period leader for years. The program is Kelly’s first for NBC, which wooed her from Fox News Channel earlier this year in one of the most high-profile network jumps for a TV news anchor in recent years.

CBS did it’s best to spoil the coming out part for Kelly. It counter-programmed “Sunday Night” with a “60 Minutes” rebroadcast of Lesley Stahl’s March interview with Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian activist who says he was poisoned by the government.

In recent days, CBS News programs also featured clips of an upcoming series from the CBS-owned premium cable service Showtime’s four-part series “The Putin Interviews,” which features film director Oliver Stone talking at length to the Russian leader. The interviews are culled from more than a dozen visits Stone and documentary producer Fernando Sulichin conducted over the last two years. The series premieres June 12.

“Sunday Night” received lukewarm reviews. Kelly’s interview — which ran for about 10 minutes — did not generate a headline-making answer out of Putin as she pressed him on Russian government interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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