MSNBC Averages Most Total Viewers, CNN Most Adults 25-54 on Day 1 of the Senate Impeachment Trial

By A.J. Katz 

CNN and MSNBC were the top-rated news networks across broadcast and cable when it came to day one 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 1-5:15 p.m. ET, CNN averaged 594,000 adults 25-54, more than MSNBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News. MSNBC averaged nearly 2.9 million total viewers in that same time period (ABC and CBS went on slightly earlier), more than CNN, Fox News, ABC and CBS in that order. NBC also aired impeachment coverage Tuesday afternoon, but its Nielsen ratings have not been made available as of now.


Tuesday, Feb.9, 2021

 Senate Impeachment Trial Day 1 Common Coverage 
Network Total Viewers (000) A25-54 Viewers (000) Time Period (ET)
MSNBC 2,873,000 482,000 1-5:15 p.m.
CNN 2,663,000 594,000 1-5:15 p.m.
Fox News 1,948,000 255,000 1-5:15 p.m.
ABC 1,795,000 365,000 12:53-5:16 p.m.
CBS 1,735,000 328,000 12:57-5:12 p.m.
NBC n/a n/a n/a

*Preliminary Nielsen live-plus-same-day data

Excluding NBC, 11 million viewers tuned into day one of impeachment trial across six broadcast/cable networks.

What do these figures look like compared with the first Trump impeachment trial, back in 2020?

Fox News was No. 1 on that day, both in total viewers and adults 25-54. However, on day one of this trial, it ranked 5th in the demo and 3rd in total viewers. The network is down -27% in total viewers and -35% among adults 25-54 vs. day one of that 2020 impeachment trial.

MSNBC, CNN and ABC are up in total viewers by +50%, +85% and +10% respectively vs. day one of the 2020 trial. CBS is down -11% in total viewers and -9% among adults 25-54. MSNBC and CNN are also up year-over-year in the key demo (+85% and +55%, respectively), while ABC is actually down -5% in the demo despite being up in total viewers.