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TV Ratings: ABC Wins Wednesday With Modest Turnout for Trump Interview

Variety logo Variety 1/26/2017 Oriana Schwindt
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The first primetime interview with President Trump after his official ascension to the office — as opposed to the interviews conducted when he was President-Elect — didn’t set the Nielsen charts aflame. In Nielsen’s preliminary ratings, President Trump’s interview with ABC News’ David Muir on Wednesday night drew a 1.7 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and 7.5 million viewers on the whole, winning the night but well short of President Obama’s first primetime interview after taking office in 2009.

Obama’s first primetime interview — as opposed to a televised press conference or late-night talk show appearance — on March 22, 2009 notched a 3.9 rating in the 18-49 demo and drew a total audience of 17.04 million. Now, circumstances for Obama’s first primetime interview were a little different: His interview was with CBS’ “60 Minutes” — and the episode aired after CBS’ March Madness coverage, giving it a solid lead-in (that it built on considerably). For a more modern comparison, President Trump’s interview on Wednesday garnered about the same preliminary rating as that of Tuesday’s “Chicago Fire” episode that aired in the same 10 p.m. hour.

The numbers are a marked improvement for ABC over the usual performance of the slot, which is currently home to new episodes of the Alec Baldwin-hosted “Match Game,” averaging a 1.1 in the demo and 4.2 million viewers. Leading up to the interview with the new Commander-in-Chief were repeats of ABC’s usual Wednesday comedy lineup.

CBS’ reality series “Hunted” got off to a hot start after the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, but the move to Wednesday night was less kind. The two hours of “Hunted” CBS aired Wednesday drew a 1.3 and 1.4 in the demo, and 5.53 million and 5.44 million viewers. “Code Black” capped off the night with a 0.9 in the demo and 5.61 million viewers.

Fox scored a solid 1.4 in the demo and 6.25 million viewers with “Lethal Weapon” at 8 p.m. “Star” stayed steady as well with a 1.2 and 3.87 million viewers.

The CW’s “Arrow” returned solidly from hiatus with a 0.6 in the demo and 1.68 million viewers. “Frequency” finished out its first-season run with a slightly up 0.3 and 825,000 viewers.

NBC was in repeats for the night.

As a reminder, many series see ratings lifts of 50% or more once viewing within three and seven days is counted. However, most of those gains don’t translate to the ratings guarantees networks make advertisers.

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