Nearly 26 Million Watched Trump Nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh for Scotus; Down From Neil Gorsuch Announcement

By A.J. Katz 

More than 6.6 million total viewers watched Fox News from 9-9:15 p.m. ET last night to see President Trump nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the United States Supreme Court, by far the largest total audience of any broadcast or cable TV network.

ABC was No. 1 for Scotus coverage last night among adults 25-54, hauling in nearly 1.7 million total demo viewers during its broadcast coverage block of 9-9:20 p.m. ET. ABC’s coverage–anchored by George Stephanopoulos–undoubtedly got a ratings boost from a new episode of The Bachelorette, which aired before and after the 20-minute ABC News special report.

NBC was No. 2 in the key A25-54 demo (1.62 million demo viewers), and had American Ninja Warrior airing before and after its NBC News special report. Fox News was No. 3 in the demo, followed by CBS (which was airing a NCIS:New Orleans repeat in the hour), Fox Broadcast, CNN and MSNBC in that order. MSNBC finished ahead of Fox Broadcast and CNN in total viewers.


Here are the Nielsen live-plus-same-days:

  • 9 p.m. ET, July 9, 2018 | Total Viewers  / A25-54

Fox News:  6,644,000 / 1,345,000
ABC: 5,246,000  / 1,680,000
NBC:   4,907,000 / 1,624,000
CBS:  3,267,000 / 795,000
MSNBC:  2,053,000 / 370,000
Fox:  1,933,000 / 740,000
CNN:  1,589,000 / 486,000
FBN:  tbd / tbd

Nearly 26 million viewers across the major broadcast and cable TV news networks watched Trump nominate Judge Kavanaugh. That doesn’t include more watching on smaller cable networks, including FBN, and streaming news services. But the 26 million total is also -21 percent from the nearly 33 million who watched him nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Scotus on Jan. 31, 2017.

Now to be fair, the 9 p.m. ET hour on a Monday in July will most certainly attract a smaller TV audience than the 8 p.m. ET hour on a Tuesday in January, which is when the Gorsuch nomination broadcast took place. That’s especially true when it comes to viewership on the broadcast networks.

And while CNN and MSNBC actually delivered larger audiences for last night’s Scotu nomination broadcast compared to the Gorsuch broadcast, Fox News was actually down from its Gorsuch numbers.

Nevertheless, and to no one’s surprise, it was Fox News that dominated the night. The network led coverage with its highly rated prime-time shows, including Hannity at 9 p.m. ET (he was No. 1 on TV last night) and The Ingraham Angle at 10 p.m. ET. Ingraham was in the room for President Trump’s Scotus announcement. She was caught by C-SPAN chatting with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and at one point, was feet away from former Fox News co-president and newly named White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine.


Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream aired in its usual 11 p.m. ET slot. The newscast was supposed to originate from the Supreme Court steps, but ended up moving back into its usual D.C. studio due to some protesters who apparently got a bit too close to Bream’s broadcast location. Additional Scotus nomination coverage was presented by chief White House correspondent John Roberts in Washington.

In terms of digital, yesterday ranked as one of Fox News’s top 5 highest days in both pageviews and uniques for 2018. Additionally, on social, Fox News generated more Facebook Interactions on Scotus-related posts yesterday than the news competition combined.

Judge Kavanaugh has served as a District of Columbia appeals court judge since 2006, and is a former aide to ex-President George W. Bush. He previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated former President Bill Clinton in the ’90s.

If confirmed by the senate, Kavanaugh would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced last month that he will retire this summer. Kavanaugh clerked for Justice Kennedy.