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Sep 23, 5:33 PM EDT

Tea Leoni's conflicted secretary of state has strong start for CBS

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NEW YORK (AP) -- It's still unclear whether television viewers will accept actress Tea Leoni as a fictional secretary of state, but they were at least willing to give the idea a try.

Her new CBS series, "Madam Secretary," debuted before just under 15 million viewers on Sunday night, the most-watched scripted offering of a week where a handful of new fall series began showing up on broadcast network schedules.

Similarly Sunday on CBS, "60 Minutes" had its most-watched season premiere since 1997 and "The Good Wife" reached more than 11 million viewers, the Nielsen company said.

CBS' prime-time lineup that night was boosted by the network's late afternoon and early evening telecast of an NFL game between last season's Super Bowl combatants, Seattle and Denver.

CBS paid big money to telecast NFL games in prime-time on Thursday nights, but last week's game was a dud. The game between Tampa Bay and Atlanta was a blowout from start to finish, with the Falcons winning 56-14, and the game was seen by less than 11.9 million viewers. NBC's Sunday night game between Pittsburgh and Carolina had an audience of 19.7 million people, Nielsen said.

Fox's Tuesday night comedies, "New Girl" and "Mindy Project," were barely noticed on their return. Zooey Deschanel's "New Girl" was seen by 3 million viewers, while "The Mindy Project" reached only 2.7 million. Fox's new "Red Band Society" did slightly better, with 4.1 million viewers.

Struggling Fox can take heart in the debut of "Gotham" on Monday night. The "Batman" prequel attracted 8 million viewers, Nielsen said.

CBS easily won the week in prime-time, averaging 8.8 million viewers. NBC had 7.9 million, ABC had 5.5 million, Fox had 3.1 million, Univision had 2.9 million, Telemundo had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.1 million and the CW had 910,000.

With football season in full swing, ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 3.49 million viewers in prime time. TBS had 1.87 million, USA had 1.8 million, the Disney Channel had 1.64 million and Fox News Channel had 1.63 million.

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.2 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 7.9 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.3 million viewers.

For the week of Sept. 15-21, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Pittsburgh at Carolina, NBC, 19.67 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 17.88 million; NFL Football: Philadelphia at Indianapolis, ESPN, 14.89 million; "Madam Secretary," CBS, 14.75 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 14.71 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 13.64 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 12.68 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), NBC, 12.21 million; NFL Football: Tampa Bay at Atlanta, CBS, 11.88 million; "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 11.46 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.



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