Cable News Ratings: MSNBC Tops Jan. 6 Hearings in Total Viewers – But CNN Takes the Demo

·6-min read

MSNBC has proven to be top dog among the cable news networks when it comes to the U.S. House special committee hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection. The network has consistently scored the highest in terms of total viewers, but has battled it out with CNN for the largest audience in the key advertiser-coveted 25-54 year old news demographic.

The eighth hearing — which is the final hearing until September — aired in primetime across ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN and MSNBC on Thursday to 17 million total viewers. MSNBC once again had the most total viewers among the cable news networks with 4.7 million, according to preliminary data from Nielsen. However, its 584,000 demo viewers couldn’t beat CNN’s 727,000. Addtionally, CNN attracted 2.9 million total viewers.

Fox News Channel decided not to stray from its traditional primetime lineup of shows from non-news hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. It managed 2.6 million total viewers during the time the hearing was airing, with a demo showing of 348,000. The hearings did air live on FOX Business Network and Fox Nation.

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Across all eight hearings, MSNBC averaged about 3 million live plus same day viewers per hearing, compared to CNN’s 2 million and Fox News’ 978,000. In the key demo, MSNBC averaged 370,000 viewers, while CNN had 390,000. FNC brought in 151,000. You can find a breakdown of viewership across each hearing for the three major cablers below.

The first hearing aired in primetime on June 9 to about 20 million total viewers across 12 networks. It remains the most-watched hearing to date, and it had the largest audience among the cablers as well until the eighth hearing. In general, the hearings have bolstered television viewing during months that typically are some of the lowest. After a steep decline from hearings 1 and 2, CNN and MSNBC both rebounded quite a bit leading up to the eighth hearing.

MSNBC secured 4.3 million total viewers during the initial hearing, including 616,000 in the demo. CNN drew about 2.7 million, once again besting its competition in the demo with 745,000. Fox News opted out of airing the first hearing, but it had about 3.1 million people tuning in during that time. The network did air hearings 2-7, which were not during primetime. But ratings show that FNC’s audience hasn’t been particularly interested in the hearings, anyway.

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MSNBC gained its second-largest audience of 3.4 million (and 446,000 demo viewers) for the sixth hearing on June 28, which included testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top White House aide who described a “furious” former President Donald Trump who physically tussled with his own security who refused to drive him to the Capitol building as the riot was getting underway. CNN also posted its second best viewership for this hearing, with 2.6 million people tuning in. In the demo, CNN came out on top for this hearing as well with 573,000.

While FNC was lambasted for opting not to air the two primetime hearings, it appears the move might have been a solid one in terms of ratings, considering the network has barely topped a million total viewers for the hearings it did air in their entirety.

After the second hearing, which was the first to air on FNC and featured allegations of Trump campaign-donor fraud and tales of a drunken Rudy Giuliani on Election night, hearing viewership didn’t again break into the seven digits for the network. Demo viewership tanked after hearing 2, barely managing to surpass 200,000.

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Fox News is consistently the most-watched cable news network for any major national event, making the lack of interest from its viewers for these hearings even more apparent. 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.

Across the seven days that these hearings have aired, FNC has taken home a total-day average of 1.5 million viewers, which still beats MSNBC (1.4 million) and CNN (801,000). For FNC, this is also fairly on-par with a week where there are no hearings.

Meanwhile, CNN and MSNBC have both benefitted from a boost in total-day viewership due to the hearings. On the week of July 4, which was the only week without a hearing since they began on June 9, MSNBC averaged 666,000 total-day viewers. CNN had an average of 538,000.

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These eight hearings wrap up the committee’s summer session, but they aren’t completely done yet. More hearings will be scheduled for as soon as September to consider even more new evidence and testimony, the committee said Thursday.

Here’s how the cable news networks fared across each of the hearings:

Hearing 1:
MSNBC – 4.3 million total viewers; 616,000 demo viewers
CNN – 2.7 million total viewers; 745,000 demo viewers
FNC – 3.1 million total viewers; 546,000 demo viewers (not airing live broadcast)

Hearing 2:
MSNBC – 2.15 million total viewers; 317,000 demo viewers
CNN – 1.34 million total viewers; 349,000 demo viewers
FNC – 1.2 million total viewers; 181,000 demo viewers

Hearing 3:
MSNBC – 3 million total viewers; 309,000 demo viewers
CNN – 1.5 million total viewers; 280,000 demo viewers
FNC – 748,000 total viewers; 119,000 demo viewers

Hearing 4:
MSNBC – 3 million total viewers; 357,000 demo viewers
CNN – 2.1 million total viewers; 374,000 demo viewers
FNC – 722,000 total viewers; 125,000 demo viewers

Hearing 5:
MSNBC – 3.2 million total viewers; 368,000 demo viewers
CNN – 2.4 million total viewers; 433,000 demo viewers
FNC – 732,000 total viewers; 91,000 demo viewers

Hearing 6:
MSNBC – 3.5 million total viewers; 446,000 demo viewers
CNN – 2.6 million total viewers; 573,000 demo viewers
FNC – 980,000 total viewers; 132,000 demo viewers

Hearing 7:
MSNBC – 3.3 million total viewers; 438,000 demo viewers
CNN – 2.6 million total viewers; 430,000 demo viewers
FNC – 847,000 total viewers; 127,000 demo viewers

Hearing 8:
MSNBC – 4.7 million total viewers; 584,000 demo viewers
CNN – 2.9 million total viewers; 727,000 demo viewers
FNC – 2.6 million total viewers; 348,000 demo viewers (not airing live broadcast)

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