TV Ratings: Trump's Second Impeachment Trial Opens With Sizable Audience

Jamie Raskin
Congress.gov via Getty Images

The first day of former President Donald Trump's unprecedented second impeachment trial drew a good-sized audience — likely larger than the tune-in for the opening of the first trial last year.

TV coverage of the trial on Tuesday afternoon averaged 11 million viewers on broadcast networks ABC and CBS and the three main cable news outlets — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. NBC also aired coverage but its audience figures weren't available at publication time.

The first day of Trump's previous impeachment trial in January 2020 also drew 11 million viewers across six networks, including NBC. Tuesday's average will obviously climb above that mark when NBC's total is added.

MSNBC grabbed the largest audience with 2.87 million viewers from 1-5:15 p.m. ET, a little ahead of the 2.66 million who watched the trial on CNN. Fox News averaged 1.95 million viewers, followed by ABC (1.8 million) and CBS (1.74 million), according to Nielsen fast national ratings.

CNN topped the key news demographic of adults 25-54 with 594,000 viewers, to 482,000 for MSNBC. ABC (365,000), CBS (328,000) and Fox News (255,000) followed.

The three cable nets all improved a bit in the final ratings: MSNBC averaged 3 million total viewers, CNN 2.81 million and Fox News 2.14 million. Final figures for the broadcast nets weren't available at publication time.

Both CNN and MSBNC drew substantially bigger audiences than they did for the first impeachment trial, where they averaged 1.44 million and 1.91 million viewers. Fox News, conversely, lost about 700,000 viewers. CBS was down by about 200,000 viewers, and ABC added 170,000.

Tuesday's action on the Senate floor included the two sides arguing over whether proceeding with charges against a former president was constitutional. The Senate voted 56-44 to proceed with the trial.

In primetime Tuesday, CBS' NCIS had the largest total audience (9.74 million), while NBC's This Is Us led the adults 18-49 demographic with a 1.01 rating. MSNBC carried its momentum into the evening, leading prime on cable with an average of 3.41 million viewers; The Rachel Maddow Show was the top program on cable with 4.31 million people watching. History's The Curse of Oak Island topped the 18-49 demo on cable with a 0.56 rating.

Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.