The Most-Watched Interview In History? Not Quite

By Alex Weprin 

Last week, we reported on Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly’s bold Super Bowl prediction: that his pre-game interview with President Barack Obama would be the “most watched interview in history. More people will see this interview than any other interview that’s ever been done in the history of mankind.”

As we noted, the modern record is Barbara Walters’ 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky, which was viewed by approximately 70 million people.

So how did O’Reilly do?

As the NY Times Bill Carter notes, the interview was seen live by approximately 17.3 million total viewers. That is about six times the number of viewers O’Reilly gets on a typical night, but far, far short of any sort of record.

That said, the interview was up 29% compared to last year’s Presidential Super Bowl interview with Katie Couric. Couric’s interview with President Obama garnered 13.4 million total viewers.

Despite not really coming close in terms of live viewers, O’Reilly could still end up winning his bet:

If O’Reilly counts the number of people that watched one part of the interview, in clip form online, then perhaps it could become the most-watched interview of all time. Unfortunately there is no accurate way to measure unique viewers on TV and online, so we probably will never get a chance to find out.