According to reports citing Nielsen ratings, which keeps track of television viewership, primetime viewership of the first January 6 Committee hearing totaled more than 19 million across all networks.
But broken down between network television and cable, network television saw dips in ratings, while unsurprisingly, cable television saw a boost in ratings.
The “Big Three” broadcast network stations – ABC, NBC, and CBS – that interrupted programming to air the hearing did not fare well, according to Nielsen ratings data provided by SpoilerTV.
All of Thursday’s numbers are preliminary, meaning they do not yet include data about who watched the entire primetime hearing. Final viewers – those who watched the entire programs – have not yet been calculated. Neither have adjustment numbers, which are the difference between preliminary viewers and final viewers.
The cable networks saw a large bump in viewers thanks to the Thursday coverage of the hearings.
Of the cable networks, MSNBC received 4.1 million viewers, well higher than its average. Fox, which did not cover the hearing, received an average of 3 million viewers. CNN did not eclipse Fox, even with its coverage of the hearing. It received only 2.6 million viewers. Fox Business Network did cover the hearing, to the tune of 223,000 viewers, TheHill reported.
In May, MSNBC averaged one million viewers in primetime. CNN averaged 660,000.
Fox, the consistent leader in cable news viewers, averaged 2.27 million viewers in primetime.
May’s average numbers were provided by Deadline.
The hearing spanned two hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Joe Concha, a television analyst, provided more context for the numbers.
He said that this year’s State of the Union address received 38 million views, far more than Thursday’s hearing coverage.
More people also watched former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) head James Comey testify before the U.S. Senate in 2017 about false allegations that former President Donald Trump was a Russian asset, and the subsequent FBI investigation stemming from those false allegations.
More context: 2022 Biden State of the Union – 38 million; James Comey 2017 Senate testimony — 20 million (daytime); January 6 hearing – Night 1 – nearly 20 million (primetime) https://t.co/FOptxrEpTG
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) June 10, 2022
Also by comparison, Trump’s inauguration received 31 million viewers and was not broadcasted in primetime, but during the middle of the day in January 2017.
Former President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration was viewed by 42 million Americans.
Last year, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving parade received 25.4 million viewers.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” production averages 18.5 million viewers weekly.
Still, the political Left is celebrating the viewership as a win.
Podcaster Sawyer Hackett compared the viewership to Hillary Clinton’s 2015 testimony about the attack in Benghazi that occurred on her watch as Secretary of State, which he said received only 4 million views.
An important stat, in total viewership:
Hillary at Benghazi hearing: 4M viewers
Night one of 1/6 hearing: 20M viewers
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) June 10, 2022
However, that testimony was also not aired during primetime, or by multiple news channels.
Forbes noted that the hearings had no “serious competition,” as one of two major sporting events that are still in season, the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, had the night off.
The other major sporting event is the National Hockey League’s Conference Finals. Thursday night, the Hurricanes faced the Rangers in the NHL playoffs, and 2.48 million viewers tuned in.
The seven-part hearing series, in which lawmakers are attempting to make the case that Trump caused the riot at the Capitol, will be televised in primetime over the coming week. The next episode is Monday.
Thursday’s hearing revealed little new information that had not already been made public.
The only significant development was an allegation from Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) that Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-04) sought a pardon from Trump for his alleged role in the January 6 events, which is described vaguely as a “plan to sow doubt in the election results.”
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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].