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The first day of news coverage of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial delivered 11 million daytime viewers across six networks.
Tuesday’s proceedings, which featured lengthy debate in the Senate about rules for the proceedings, stretched into the early part of Wednesday. The cable news channels stuck with coverage throughout, but broadcasters ABC, CBS and NBC aired regular programming in primetime — thus there are three sets of numbers to show.
From 12:30 to 5 p.m. ET, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC carried the feed from the Senate floor. It averaged 11.01 million viewers, with Fox News scoring the largest share of that audience, 2.65 million. CBS, which cut off its coverage at 3 p.m., drew 1.94 million, followed by MSNBC (1.91 million), ABC (1.63 million), CNN and NBC (1.44 million each).
Among the broadcast networks, only NBC continued coverage into the evening where it got a sizable bump, lifting its average for the day (12:30-5 p.m. and 5:18-7:40 p.m. ET) to 2.79 million viewers. Fox News drew 2.63 million from 12:30-8 p.m., compared to 1.98 million for MSNBC and 1.46 million for CNN.
Fox News had its usual edge in primetime, although all three big cable news channels were on par with their recent performance. Fox News averaged 3.51 million viewers from 8-11 p.m., with MSNBC at 2.53 million and CNN at 1.51 million.
The primetime race shook out similarly in the key news demographic of adults 25-54: Fox News drew 654,000 viewers in the demo, while MSNBC pulled 490,000 and CNN attracted 459,000.
Tuesday’s proceedings drew a smaller audience than the Dec. 19 vote on articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives. That vote, carried in primetime on the cable news channels and NBC, topped out at 16.05 million viewers.
CNN’s daytime and primetime audiences on Tuesday were pretty close to what they were for the first day of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in January 1999. It averaged 1.3 million viewers for two hours of daytime coverage and 1.48 million in primetime. Fox News and MSNBC, which were then less than three years old, drew a combined 600,000 viewers in daytime in 1999 and about 800,000 in prime.
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