Day 2 Senate Impeachment Trial Ratings: MSNBC, CNN Split First Place as Viewership Grows From Day 1

By A.J. Katz 

For the second consecutive day, CNN and MSNBC were the top-rated news networks across broadcast and cable when it came to live coverage of the 2021 Senate impeachment trial of former President Trump.

According to fast national data from Nielsen, CNN averaged the most adults 25-54, while MSNBC averaged the largest total audience.

From 12-5:45 p.m. ET, CNN averaged 720,000 adults 25-54, more than MSNBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News. MSNBC averaged more than 3.5 million total viewers in that same time period (ABC and CBS went on slightly earlier), more than CNN, CBS, ABC and Fox News in that order. NBC also aired impeachment coverage Wednesday afternoon, but its Nielsen ratings have not been made available as of now.


Wednesday, Feb.10, 2021

 Senate Impeachment Trial Day 1 Common Coverage 
Network Total Viewers (000) A25-54 Viewers (000) Time Period (ET)
MSNBC 3,533,000 507,000 12-5:45 p.m.
CNN 3,196,000 720,000 12-5:45 p.m.
CBS 2,352,000 425,000 11:57 a.m.-5:38 p.m.
ABC 2,027,000 383,000 12-5:44 p.m.
Fox News 1,231,000 162,000 12-5:45 p.m.
NBC n/a n/a n/a

*Preliminary Nielsen live-plus-same-day data

Excluding NBC, 12.3 million total viewers and 2.2 million adults 25-54 tuned into day two of impeachment trial across five broadcast/cable networks.

How do these figures stack up against compare against day one of the second Trump impeachment trial? They stack up pretty favorably for CNN, MSNBC, CBS and ABC.

CBS moved past ABC in total viewers and among adults 25-54. Fox News, however, finished last in both measurements, and lost a chunk audience from opening day impeachment trial coverage.

That’s likely why the network decided to shift into its highly-rated 5 p.m. show The Five, and lo and behold, its 5 p.m. audience ended up being far larger than 4 p.m. hour.

Compared to day one, MSNBC posted +23% growth in total viewers but only +5% growth among adults 25-54. CNN’s change was a bit more balanced, as the network was up +20% in total viewers and +21% among adults 25-54 vs. day one. CBS had the most impressive day-to-day growth of the networks, +36% in total viewers vs. day one, and +30% in the demo.

Fox News, on the other hand, was down -37% in total viewers and -36% among adults 25-54 vs. day one.

Altogether, the 12.3 million viewers figure who watched day two is +12% from day one, and the 2.2 million adults 25-54 who watched day two is a +9% change from day one.

One of the most memorable moments of the coverage is when Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) played previously unreleased footage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot during trial.