Stormy Daniels is a ratings blockbuster.
CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview Sunday night featuring the pornographic film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, garnered the highest ratings for the program in almost a decade. It drew 22 million viewers, according to Nielsen, more than the much-hyped recent telecasts for the Grammys and the Golden Globes.
The segment on Clifford, who said she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump in 2006 and had been offered money to keep it quiet, took up more than half the episode. The start of the episode was delayed 36 minutes by an overtime NCAA men’s basketball tournament game between Kansas and Duke. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who joined “60 Minutes” as a correspondent in 2006, conducted the interview.
The episode was the best performer for “60 Minutes” since the airing of Steve Kroft’s interview with Barack and Michelle Obama after the 2008 election, which had more than 25 million viewers. The ratings Sunday were probably helped somewhat by a strong lead-in, the college basketball game, which Kansas won, 85-81.
The rise of streaming has fractured the television audience, and it has become a rarity for a show to draw more than 20 million viewers. The exceptions are live broadcasts of major sporting events and awards shows.
The interview segment with Clifford made for a bigger draw than the telecasts of this year’s Grammys (19.8 million) and the Golden Globes (19 million). The “60 Minutes” episode also had more viewers than the usual editions of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” which averaged 18 million viewers, and came within striking distance of ABC’s telecast last month of the Academy Awards, which had 26.5 million viewers.
The highly anticipated segment on Clifford kicked off viewing parties.
The broadcast also outperformed recent “60 Minutes” breakout episodes. The El Chapo-focused interview with Sean Penn, in January 2016, drew 20.6 million viewers, and Lesley Stahl’s sit-down with Trump and his family, soon after he won the presidential election in November 2016, drew 20 million.