Impeachment Vote Draws 16M Viewers on Cable News, NBC

Fox News leads the way per usual, and CNN enjoys its best non-debate night in ages.
SAUL LOEB / AFP
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

The House of Representatives vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump drew a big audience to cable news on Wednesday night.

Tune-in was up by double digits vs. recent days at all three major cable news channels in primetime Wednesday, with Fox News leading the way, per usual. CNN enjoyed its biggest night, excluding debates, in months.

In the 8 p.m. ET hour, as the vote on the two articles of impeachment began, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC drew a combined 11.265 million viewers, 84 percent higher than the average for the prior two days. The audience grew to 12.13 million at 9 p.m., 58 percent ahead of the average viewership for Monday and Tuesday.

NBC was the only broadcast network to stick with the House vote at 8 p.m. ET, averaging 4.79 million viewers to bring the total for the hour to 16.05 million. ABC and CBS switched to regular programming but broke in for brief reports on the vote.

The last time a president was impeached — Bill Clinton in 1998, with the House vote coming on Saturday, Dec. 19 — about 6 million people watched on CNN and the then relatively new Fox News and MSNBC (both launched in 1996). ABC and NBC also carried coverage, drawing a combined viewership between 5 million and 6 million. (CBS was obligated to show an NFL game.)

Fox's Tucker Carlson Tonight (5.03 million viewers) and Hannity (5 million) led the 8 and 9 o'clock hours. The Rachel Maddow Show delivered 4.07 million viewers for MSNBC at 9 p.m., while All In With Chris Hayes drew 3.4 million an hour earlier. CNN special coverage average 2.84 million viewers at 8 p.m., and that coverage and an abbreviated Cuomo Prime Time combined for 3.06 million at 9 o'clock.

NBC's special report topped the key news demographic of adults 25-54 with a 1.2 rating at 8 p.m. Tucker Carlson Tonight's 0.9 edged CNN's 0.84, while All In drew a 0.55. CNN topped the 9 p.m. hour in the demo with a 0.93 to Hannity's 0.91 and Maddow's 0.69.

The strong numbers continued at 10 p.m. for Fox's The Ingraham Angle (4.36 million), MSNBC's Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell (3.14 million) and CNN Tonight (2.03 million), all of which were well above average.