Thursday night’s primetime hearing by the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot drew more than 17 million viewers — down from the opening session of the proceedings.
According to Nielsen Media Research, more than 13.1 million households watched the hearing — broadcast on every major network and most cable news channels — for a 10.7 rating. The viewing figures did not include data from PBS, which also aired the hearing live.
Thursday’s audience failed to match the 20 million who tuned in for the first prime-time hearing June 9, but outstripped each of the other six hearings, which was expected since they were held during daytime TV hours and not carried on broadcast networks.
According to Nielsen, the most-watched daytime hearing took place June 28, when 13.2 million Americans watched former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson make a series of bombshell claims about former President Donald Trump’s behavior leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021.
Most notably, Hutchinson said she had heard that Trump tried to overpower his Secret Service detail and drive himself to the Capitol when he was told he would not be able to accompany his supporters there.
The two primetime hearings notably outdrew this year’s Academy Awards telecast on ABC, which pulled in 16.6 million viewers — but failed to attract the audience of other big political happenings like President Biden’s first State of the Union Address, which was broadcast by 16 different networks and watched by more than 38 million Americans March 1.
As with the other seven hearings, Thursday night’s viewership was dominated by viewers aged 55 and older (13.6 million, according to Nielsen), while just 705,000 viewers were in the 18-34 demographic most coveted by advertisers.
Thursday’s hearing was broadcast by ABC, CBS, NBC, NBCLX, CNBC, CNN, CNNe, FOX Business Network, MSNBC, NewsNation.
ABC won the broadcast network battle with an average of 3.98 million viewers. NBC edged CBS into third place, drawing 2.69 million viewers to the Tiffany Network’s 2.68 million.
On cable, MSNBC dominated coverage of the hearing, drawing an average of 4.88 million viewers. CNN could average just 3.18 million viewers.
Fox News Channel, which drew criticism last month for not airing the committee’s first primetime hearing, stuck to its guns again Thursday. The cable giant did air the daytime hearings in their entirety.
While the hearing was in progress, FNC averaged 2.66 million viewers for primetime mainstays “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “Hannity” and “The Ingraham Angle.”
Nielsen said its numbers took into account out-of-home viewing as well as Americans who watched the speech on platforms such as Roku. According to the firm, the latter group could make up as much as 13% of the audience for “televised political events.”
The Jan. 6 committee has said it will hold additional hearings in September to explore the aftermath of the day the 45th president’s supporters ransacked the Capitol building to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.