2:23pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 14 Million Watched O.J. Simpson Parole Hearing
A soon-to-be-free O.J. Simpson was the latest star of what's shaping up to be a hearing-heavy year for TV.
Simpson, facing a parole board after serving nine years for armed robbery in a Nevada correctional facility, again blanketed the airwaves Thursday afternoon — though the live tune-in was nothing like the 1995 "Trial of the Century" that ultimately saw him acquitted of murder charges. Across nine major networks carrying coverage, the relatively brief hearing brought in just shy of 14 million viewers.
CBS led the pack with an average 3.1 million viewers during the 1-to-3 p.m. ET window, while Fox News Channel topped the cable competitors with its 1.7 million viewers. ESPN, an outlier here, took a stab at live news coverage but trailed all with an audience of only 471,000.
It was nothing compared to the handsome gross audience that tuned into former FBI director James Comey just a month and a half ago. The congressional questioning reached nearly 20 million viewers on the major news outlets alone, despite its very early (10 a.m. ET) start time.
This Simpson coverage was significantly better than an average weekday afternoon for all networks involved. But when you consider the fact that his infamous murder trial ended with a brain-melting 150 million viewers, nearly 60 percent of the U.S. at the time, it's pretty ho-hum.