In a rare move, the major networks upended their daytime schedules to air live coverage of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and it paid off.
ABC, CBS and NBC—along with the three big cable news networks—pulled overnight ratings of 14.3 for the Comey testimony, which began about 10 a.m. EST and ran for about three hours.
14.3 overnight rating for nearly three hours of Comey testimony on three broadcast nets and three cable news nets.— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) June 9, 2017
According to the Washington Post, the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, Watergate hearings in 1973, Iran-Contra hearings in 1987, Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 and Clinton impeachment hearings in 1998 were the only previous Congressional hearings to be aired live on broadcast television.
While broadcast ratings got a boost from the high-profile testimony, Facebook Live streams of the event also drew big numbers. According to a chart by Delmondo, a social video analytics firm, BBC led the way on the platform by attracting 793,865 total views.
Interestingly, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook Live stream of the event drew a bigger audience (660,180) than The New York Times (615,630) and Fox News (525,164). Also surprising, Super Deluxe’s psychedelic remix stream on Facebook chalked up 483,000 views, more than the Washington Post (474,661) and ABC News (347,967).
For the networks, the rare daytime ratings blockbuster came after a 2016-2017 season in which both NBC and CBS notched significant ratings wins.
For NBC, it’s a first-place finish in the 18-49 demographic for the third time in the past four years. The broadcaster finished the season with a 2.1 Nielsen live program/same-day time-shifted rating, mostly on pace with what it posted last year, according to MediaPost.
While CBS may have trailed in that demographic, the broadcaster won out in terms of total viewers, with 9.6 million. NBC had 8.1 million, ABC had 6.2 million, Fox had 5.8 million and the CW had 1.8 million.