James Comey Hearing Ratings: ABC is No. 1 in Total Viewers; CNN No. 1 in Demo

By A.J. Katz 

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Broadcast, cable, and digital news outlets provided extensive coverage of former FBI Director James Comey‘s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee in regard to an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Public interest in the investigation has been significant, and it’s no surprise that the linear news networks all posted strong ratings relative to what they often deliver on a typical weekday morning.

Here are the Nielsen TV ratings for special coverage of the Comey hearing (10 a.m. – 12:57 p.m. ET)

  • ABC: 3.295m total viewers, 854k adults 25-54
  • CBS: 3.286m total viewers, 784k adults 25-54
  • Fox News: 3.096m total viewers, 600k adults 25-54
  • CNN: 3.049m total viewers, 1.019m adults 25-54
  • NBC: 2.723m total viewers, 859k adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 2.719m total viewers, 630k adults 25-54
  • Univision: TBD, TBD
  • Telemundo:  TBD, TBD
  • Fox Biz: 236k total viewers, TBD
  • CNBC: 184k total viewers, TBD
  • FOX Broadcast: TBD, TBD

According to Nielsen Media Research, a total of 19.5 million viewers watched live coverage of the hearing across 10 Nielsen-measured networks. 1.3 million who watched on one of the 10 Nielsen-measured networks were millennials (Adults 18-34), while 13.2 million were adults 55+.

ABC was the most-watched network for coverage of the hearing across broadcast and cable, edging CBS by only 9,000 total viewers.  ABC decided to keep its usual morning routine on the East Coast, airing Good Morning America in its usual 7 – 9 a.m. ET time period, followed by Kelly & Ryan in the 9 a.m. ET hour before going to the testimony at 10. CBS and NBC, on the other hand, extended their respective morning news shows by an hour (7 – 10 a.m. ET).

CBS’s win over NBC in total viewers is notable considering NBC’s morning show always out-performs CBS’s morning show in the total viewer category.

CBSN also managed to have its most-watched day since Inauguration Day, and the 10 a.m. ET hour set a new record for CBS News in mobile web traffic in 2017.

CBS News and ABC News remained on-air with their respective testimony postmortems until 1 p.m. ET, and then went to their regularly-scheduled daytime programming. NBC News left its Comey coverage at 12:50 p.m. ET to cover the French Open.

CNN was the No. 1 network, broadcast or cable, for coverage of the Comey hearing among adults 25-54. NBC finished right behind CNN in the category, and was No. 1 in the news demo across broadcast.

NBC and MSNBC almost delivered the identical number of total viewers (2.723 million versus 2.719 million). Combined, the two networks delivered over 5.4 million total viewers.

2.7 million viewers tuned into Bloomberg’s live stream of the hearing on Twitter yesterday. The live coverage attracted a large millennial audience, with 88 percent of logged-in viewers under the age of 35.

Comparing exclusively the cable news networks, Fox News finished No. 1 in total viewers, edging CNN, but finished No. 3 in the ad-friendly A25-54 demo. CNN, as previously mentioned, was No. 1 in the ad-friendly A25-54 demographic and No. 2 in total viewers. MSNBC finished No. 2 in the demo and No. 3 in total viewers.

MSNBC delivered more viewers for the Comey hearing than it did for Trump’s oath of office and inaugural address.

Cable news total day

  • Fox News: 2.091m total viewers, 438k adults 25-54
  • CNN: 1.552m total viewers, 529k adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.678m total viewers, 420k adults 25-54

Fox News was No. 1 across total day in total viewers, while CNN ranked No. 1 in the demo.

Cable news prime time (8 – 11 p.m.)

  • Fox News: 3.181m total viewers, 667k adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 2.757m total viewers, 757k adults 25-54
  • CNN: 1.705m total viewers, 601k adults 25-54

Fox News was No. 1 in total prime time viewers last night, while MSNBC captured the key A25-54 demo.

Lastly, on Facebook, videos related to Comey’s testimony had nearly 8 million comments, reactions, and shares. There were 89 million views of those videos.