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TV Ratings: Trump’s SCOTUS Pick Press Conference Causes Chaos in the Nielsen Rankings

Variety logo Variety 2/1/2017 Oriana Schwindt
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President Donald Trump’s press conference announcing his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat — Neil Gorsuch, in case you somehow missed the news — caused chaos in the Nielsen ratings for Tuesday night’s 8 o’clock hour.

Unlike President Barack Obama’s first primetime news conference, which ran from 8 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2009, and was a more general address to the American public, this press conference lasted just 17 minutes, since its aim was merely to reveal the Gorsuch pick. Consequently, numbers from 8-8:30 p.m. on four of the five broadcasters should be taken with a glacier-sized grain of salt, since they’re currently mixed in with those networks’ other programming.

In that 8 to 8:30 p.m. timeframe, NBC led in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic with a 1.2 rating and 5.78 million viewers overall; its coverage was followed by an already-in-progress repeat of (yes, really) reality series “The Wall.” CBS nabbed the most total viewers, with 7.42 million, and a 1.0 rating in the demo; it joined a “2 Broke Girls” repeat. ABC’s coverage was adjoined by a repeat of “The Middle” and brought in a 0.9 in the demo and 4.69 million viewers. Fox’s coverage drew a 0.6 in the demo and 2.07 million viewers, joining an in-progress “New Girl” repeat.

NBC, Fox, and CBS went new after the dust had settled. On NBC, “The Wall” stood on its own with a 1.4 in the demo and 5.55 million viewers. (“This Is Us” took the week off.) On CBS, the 2017 edition of “Super Bowl Greatest Commercials” weighed in with a 0.9 in the demo and 6.41 million viewers. A new episode of Fox’s “The Mick” at 8:30 drew a slightly-up 1.1 in the demo and 2.95 million viewers, while “Bones” stayed steady with a 0.9 and 3.74 million viewers. Not helped by the chaos and repeats, ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” at 10 brought in a low 0.6 in the demo and 2.17 million viewers.

On The CW, which didn’t carry the press conference, “The Flash” ticked up slightly from last week to a 1.1 in the demo and 3.04 million viewers. “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” also rose to a 0.7 and 1.8 million viewers.

Ratings for cable coverage of the President’s reality-show-esque unveiling of his SCOTUS pick will be available later on Wednesday.

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

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