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Comey Testimony Was Ratings Gold

Former F.B.I. Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday was ratings gold:

It was the testimony of a once-obscure former law enforcement official. Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. At 10 in the morning. On a workday.

Not your usual ratings gold.

No matter. Roughly 19.5 million Americans tuned in on Thursday to watch James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, unspool the tale of his awkward, unsettling and, at times, ethically questionable encounters with President Trump.

That is about the same number of people who watched Game 2 of this week’s N.B.A. finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Mr. Comey’s full audience was undoubtedly even bigger. The viewership figure released on Friday by the television tracking firm Nielsen did not include statistics for PBS, C-Span or the Fox broadcasting affiliates that carried the hearing live.

And it can be difficult to account for those who congregated at viewing parties across the country.

Many more people followed along with Mr. Comey on the radio or online, with numerous news sites livestreaming the proceedings. Twitter and Bloomberg News, for instance, said that their joint livestream reached an average of 129,000 viewers a minute.

Regular daytime programming, such as “The View” and “The Rachael Ray Show,” was pre-empted by special reports on all three broadcast networks, which aired Mr. Comey’s nearly three-hour appearance beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

ABC’s coverage, with an average of about 3.29 million viewers, was the highest-rated Comey broadcast over all; CBS, whose coverage began at 9 a.m., was a close second, with about 3.28 million viewers.

Fox News was the winner on cable news, drawing about 3.1 million people. CNN attracted 3.06 million viewers and beat its rivals in the 25-to-54 age demographic, which is important to advertisers, although the Comey hearing was aired commercial-free

Given these numbers, it will be interesting to see what impact Comey’s testimony will have on President Trump’s job approval numbers.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Pch101 says:

    US national politics are like football and hockey, except bloodier.

    One of the best spectator sports you’ll find.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. James Pearce says:

    This kind of thing is what makes me skeptical of the calls from the #resistance to “subscribe to the New York Times.”

    Trump is ratings gold. You know what you do with the goose that’s laying golden eggs? You don’t kill it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Pch101 says:

    So the New York Times doesn’t need revenue or profit because some people watch TV.

    I would ask how that makes any sense, but we all know that it doesn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    I told myself not to watch but couldn’t help it. I feel like we’re witnessing history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. James Pearce says:

    @Pch101:

    So the New York Times doesn’t need revenue or profit because some people watch TV.

    Your attempts to understand my comments would laughable if they even qualified as “attempts.”

    The #resistance wants us all to subscribe to the NY Times because we need good journalism now more than ever and if you want good journalism, you have to pay for it. Right? I’m not misstating the argument to make it seem more ridiculous or acting like some other argument is being made, right? I’m accurately stating what the #resistance believes viz a viz subscriptions to the NY Times, am I not?

    Well, this is what I have to say to that. “Good journalism” is no substitute for a competent political opposition.

    I’ve expressed multiple times my exhaustion with all the things the left does to avoid confronting the problems they say they care so much about. I understand perfectly the connection between that approach and where we find ourselves now.

    Subscribe to the Times…if you want to line their pockets. If you want to bring down Trump, you gotta do something else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Mr Bluster says:

    I feel like we’re witnessing history.

    Hearings opened on May 17, 1973, and the Committee issued its seven-volume, 1,250-page report on June 27, 1974, entitled Report on Presidential Campaign Activities. The first weeks of the committee’s hearings were a national politico-cultural event. They were broadcast live during the day on commercial television; at the start, CBS, NBC, and ABC covered them simultaneously, and then later on a rotation basis, while PBS replayed the hearings at night. Some 319 hours were broadcast overall, and 85% of U.S. households watched some portion of them. The audio feed also was broadcast gavel-to-gavel on scores of National Public Radio stations, making the hearings available to people in their cars and workplaces, and giving a major boost to the fledgling broadcast organization.
    WikiP

    Who can say what brought us to this miracle we’ve found?
    There are those who’ll bet love comes but once, and yet
    I’m oh, so glad we met the second time around

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Subscribe to the Times…if you want to line their pockets. If you want to bring down Trump, you gotta do something else.”

    What nonsense are you inventing now? Speaking as one of those awful liberals who don’t understand the world as well as Dr. Pearce I subscribe to the Times in order to learn what’s going on in the world, not to bring down Trump. Because unlike your little straw lefties I am neither an idiot nor a cartoon character.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. wr says:

    Now that he’s got the great ratings he craves, I can imagine that Trump is busily cooking up a new set of crimes so he can have more highly-rated hearings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Pch101 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Your capacity for strawmen and illogical arguments has no limit.

    Liberals need the NYT.

    Liberals also need other things in addition to the NYT.

    This shouldn’t be tough to understand, yet for you, it’s impossible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Jen says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t understand the trajectory that comment/line of thought took. People are supporting the Times and WaPo and other sources of print journalism because it is important to have a robust and multi-faceted free press in this country. Good TV ratings are fleeting and dependent upon having something to…put on screen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Because unlike your little straw lefties I am neither an idiot nor a cartoon character.

    My little straw lefty just said -quote- “Liberals need the NYT.”

    No, liberals need to stop waiting for the deus ex machina that’s going to come in and fix things while they’re sitting there waving protest signs and subscriptions to …and this is the biggest joke of the whole thing…a newspaper.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Pch101 says:

    @Jen:

    People are supporting the Times and WaPo and other sources of print journalism because it is important to have a robust and multi-faceted free press in this country.

    You would think that this is obvious. Apparently not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. James Pearce says:

    @Jen:

    People are supporting the Times and WaPo and other sources of print journalism because it is important to have a robust and multi-faceted free press in this country.

    I disagree.

    The newspaper business is a shadow of its former self, a dying business with diminishing clout. Some people think it’s so crucial we boost their subscriber base and increase their revenues so they’re not dying and they still have clout. Well, that’s over. Might as well invest in chalkboards and horse buggies than puts your hopes in a newspaper.

    The other aspect, unexamined for the most part, is this annoying tendency on the left to prioritize low-cost, vague and mostly symbolic gestures over concrete actions that might come with a result. It’s like we don’t care –not really– whether our politics prevails or is a genuinely good thing for people. Like…can we stop being so facile?

    “Subscribe to the NYT” is the watchword of a faction that is out of ideas and won’t put in the effort to achieve them anyway. It’s lazy. It won’t work. The NYT isn’t “ours.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. James Pearce says:

    @James Pearce:

    The NYT isn’t “ours.”

    And CNN isn’t either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Pch101 says:

    I had no idea that our choices were limited to either subscribing to the New York Times or else being politically active.

    Surely it isn’t possible to do, er, both.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. James Pearce says:

    @Pch101: Not good enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Pch101 says:

    So voters in Milwaukee didn’t show up because there are some people who are sending out hashtags to push the New York Times.

    You have a lot of criticisms but you haven’t offered even one cogent plan for getting more voters for Democrats. Not a single one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. dmhlt says:

    Contrary to what conservative pundits try to claim, this is clearly NOT just a “Beltway thing”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0