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TV Ratings: Comey Hearing Draws Nearly 20 Million Viewers

Variety logo Variety 6/9/2017 Joe Otterson
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UPDATED 2:45 P.M. PT: Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee drew nearly 20 million television viewers, according to Nielsen.

Live coverage of the Senate hearing featuring the former FBI director averaged 19.5 million viewers across 10 networks from roughly 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. The hearing drew a 14.1 household rating, 1.3 million viewers ages 18-34, 4.3 million viewers 35-54, and 13.3 million viewers 55 and up.

Across the three major cable-news networks, the hearing drew nearly 9 million viewers. During special coverage of Comey’s testimony from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET, Fox News finished first in total viewers with 3.1 million but was third in the key adults 25-54 demographic with 600,000 viewers. CNN was a close second in total viewers with 3.05 million viewers but finished first handily in the demo with 1.02 million. MSNBC was third in viewers 2.72 million but second in the demo with 630,000.

For the total day, Fox was number one in total viewers with 2.09 million but second in the demo with 438,000. MSNBC was second in total viewers with 1.68 million total viewers and third 420,000 in the demo. CNN was third in total viewers with 1.55 million but again first in the demo with 529,000.

During primetime Thursday night, Fox was again first in total viewers with 3.18 million but second in the demo with 667,000. MSNBC was second in total viewers with 2.76 million but first in the demo with 757,000. CNN was third overall with 1.71 million viewers and 601,000 in the demo.

When looking at individual cable news shows throughout the day, Fox News’ Sean Hannity was the most-watched, narrowly edging out MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow with 3.351 million total viewers to Maddow’s 3.349 million. Maddow topped Hannity in the demo, however, with 979,000 to Hannity’s 747,000. Hannity airs at 10 p.m. while Maddow airs at 9. CNN was the only network to draw more than a million viewers in the demo for any particular hour, while Wolf Blitzer clocked in with 2.76 million total viewers and 947,000 in the demo from 1 p.m.-2 p.m.

In addition, CNN Digital’s live stream of  Comey’s testimony generated 3.9 million live starts, ranking in the top 10 of all days on record for live stream starts, according to data provided by the network. Viewers peaked at 11:35AM at 769,000 concurrent users. The day also saw 21 million unique visitors and 21 million video starts across all platforms, including 8 million unique visitors on CNN Politics content alone.

The hearing was also carried live on CBS, NBC, and ABC from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ABC News claimed a razor-thin first place in total viewers with 3.295 million but was second in the demo with 854,000. CBS News was second in total viewers with 3.286 million but third in the demo with 784,000. NBC was third in total viewers with 2.72 million but first in the demo with 859,000.

Comey testified on several private meetings and phone calls he had with President Donald Trump, prior to Trump firing Comey in May. The former FBI Director repeatedly stated that Trump has lied in his accounts of their interactions. He also said the President and members of his administration have engaged in a campaign to “defame” him and the FBI. Comey also asserted there was no doubt that the Russian government directed a sophisticated campaign to influence the 2016 election through hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email system as well as through other cyber-malfeasance.

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