Impeachment Hearings Draw 13M Viewers to News Channels

Fox News and MSNBC pulled the biggest audiences and ABC led the key news demo on day one of the public hearings.
Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images

The first day of impeachment hearings regarding President Donald Trump were a strong draw for cable news channels and broadcast networks.

The six hours of televised hearings in the House of Representatives drew a total audience of 13.1 million viewers on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Coverage on PBS stations, Telemundo, CNN en Español and HLN (the latter on tape delay) raised the total to about 13.8 million. Hearings were also televised on C-SPAN; audience figures for the ad-free channel weren't available.

Fox News had the biggest audience for the hearings with 2.89 million viewers, followed by MSNBC at 2.7 million. There was a bit of a gap between MSNBC and third-place ABC (2.01 million), while CBS (1.97 million), CNN (1.86 million) and NBC (1.68 million) were fairly tightly bunched.

ABC drew the biggest audience in the key news demographic of adults 25-54, with 496,000 viewers tuning in for its special coverage. Fox News' 444,000 edged NBC's 440,000 for second place. They were followed by CNN (428,000), CBS (384,000) and MSNBC (365,000).

The 13.1 million viewers for the impeachment hearings is comparable with the 13 million who watched Robert Mueller testify before Congress in July. 

All three cable channels drew audiences well above their usual daytime averages with the hearings. The ratings boost continued in primetime, where the run-up to impeachment hearings has drawn increased interest from viewers for several weeks running.

Fox News' Hannity topped primetime on the news channels with 4.43 million viewers, well above its third-quarter average. The same was true for Tucker Carlson Tonight (3.97 million) and The Ingraham Angle (3.48 million).

MSNBC and CNN also had strong showings in primetime. The Rachel Maddow Show delivered 3.63 million viewers, more than a million above its third-quarter average. All In With Chris Hayes (2.19 million) and Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell (2.61 million) were each more than 500,000 viewers above their Q3 numbers.

On CNN, Anderson Cooper 360 (1.44 million), Cuomo Primetime (1.33 million) and CNN Tonight (1.14 million) all had better-than-average nights.