Mar 28, 3:50 PM EDT

Once a familiar leader, '60 Minutes' was tops in the television ratings last week for the first time since 2008



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NEW YORK (AP) -- CBS' "60 Minutes" returned this week to a familiar place it hadn't been accustomed to visiting that much lately: first place in the prime-time television rankings.

The venerable newsmagazine hadn't finished as the most-watched program of the week since November 2008, when newly elected Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, sat down for the first TV interview since their election.

In its glory years, that was a familiar spot for "60 Minutes." It finished the entire 1979-80 season as television's top-ranked show, a feat that it achieved five times. The first week that it topped the ratings came in November 1978 - likely making it the show with the longest gap between the first and most recent first-place showing.

This week's show featured Scott Pelley's story about fake news, Anderson Cooper's report on the Islamic State's first attack on U.S. soil and Sharyn Alfonsi's feature about a chess program in rural Mississippi. The content was less important than the show's lead-in: The newsmagazine started a half hour later than usual because of North Carolina's regional final victory over Kentucky in men's basketball, a game that came down to a last-second shot and was watched by 22.1 million people during its final 15 minutes.

It has been a positive season for "60 Minutes," which is up about 2 percent in viewership over last year.

CBS easily won the week in prime-time, averaging 7.4 million viewers. NBC had 5.6 million, ABC had 4.4 million, Fox had 2.8 million, Univision had 1.7 million, Telemundo had 1.31 million, the CW had 1.3 million and ION Television had 1.2 million.

TBS was the week's most popular cable network, reaching 3.27 million in prime-time with the help of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Fox News Channel had 2.51 million, MSNBC had 1.77 million, HGTV had 1.63 million and USA had 1.62 million.

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 7.8 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.4 million viewers.

For the week of March 20-26, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "60 Minutes," CBS, 14.7 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 12.09 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 11.71 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 10.84 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 10.74 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 10.54 million; NCAA Basketball: UCLA vs. Kentucky, CBS, 10 million; "Little Big Shots," NBC, 9.81 million; "NCIS," CBS, 9.36 million; NCAA Basketball: Kansas vs. Oregon, TBS, 9.31 million.

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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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Online: http://www.nielsen.com

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