Fox News’ decision to skip live news coverage of Thursday’s unprecedented primetime congressional hearing on the Jan. 6 Capitol attacks looks to have lifted viewership for the top-rated primetime news network compared to the week prior.
From 8-10 p.m. ET Thursday, Fox News averaged 2.9 million viewers, topping CNN (2.6 million) in total viewers, according to early Nielsen media research numbers provided to TheWrap. This marks a 7% jump from last Thursday when the networked earned 2.7 million viewers in primetime. From 8-11 p.m. ET, Fox News averaged 2.8 million viewers.
Thursday night’s figures compare well to the whole week preceding the first Jan. 6 committee hearing, during which Fox News averaged 2 million total viewers in primetime (8-10 p.m. ET), a 9% dip from the week before. For the week of May 30-June 5, Fox News’ top-performer, political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” was the only primetime cable program to average more than 3 million viewers.
Despite the lift, Fox News still fell behind MSNBC, which nearly quadrupled its typical weeknight primetime average with 4.1 million viewers.
On Monday, Fox News announced that it would be the only major news network that would not air the Jan. 6 Committee hearings live in its entirety, instead providing its own coverage “as warranted” through its regular primetime schedule. Meanwhile, CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox all aired live coverage as well as CNN and MSNBC. Fox News relegated live coverage of Thursday’s hearing to Fox Business Network, which delivered 223,00 viewers in primetime, a 108% increase as compared to Thursday, June 2.
During post-hearing coverage, Fox News’ two-hour special anchored by Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum and Shannon Bream from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. ET garnered 1.3 million viewers compared to CNN’s 841,000 in the same timeframe.
From 6 p.m.-1 a.m. ET Thursday, the Fox News averaged 2.38 million viewers. Overall, the network averaged 1.33 million total day viewers (which accounts for programming outside of primetime) to lead all basic cable from May 30-June 5.
“Everything about the hearing Thursday night is unprecedented,” CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane told TheWrap ahead of the committee’s first session. “This is the largest criminal investigation in American history and the committee is doing the only investigation of its kind in American history.”
Fox News is consistently the most-watched cable news network for any major national event. The network garnered 7.2 million viewers for the most recent State of the Union address, compared to CNN’s 4.8 million and MSNBC’s 4.1 million. On Election night, Fox News drew 13.6 million viewers, topping CNN’s 9.1 million and MSNBC’s 7.3 million.