Fox News Channel elected to not air Thursday’s January 6 hearing live last night, which took place in primetime from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. While the cable news network topped CNN’s carriage of the congressional committee’s hearing in total viewers, it did not come close to MSNBC’s massive tally.
MSNBC averaged a whopping (for them) 4.161 million total viewers, trouncing both Fox News (2.957 million total viewers) by 29 percent and CNN (2.617 total million viewers) by 37 percent. CNN finished way ahead of its direct cable news competition in the key demographic for news programming, adults 25-54, with 709,000 viewers from that age range vs. 555,000 on MSNBC and 513,000 on Fox. That’s a 22 percent advantage over MSNBC and 28 percent win over Fox News.
CNN, MSNBC, and a whole host of other TV channels simulcasted the hearing last night. Fox was widely criticized for not fulfilling its news duties by sticking with its regular talking heads. The decision was a strategic, if not overtly politically motivated one: The January 6 Committee is presenting some very unflattering information about former President Donald Trump’s role in stoking the seditious actions of many. Said findings are also very critical of extreme conservative groups like the Proud Boys. So suffice it to say, your average Fox News viewer would not be particularly interested in Liz Cheney (pictured above) & co.’s presentation.
The right-wing Fox News Channel did not air commercials while the hearing ran live on other platforms.
The January 6 hearing shared shocking, never-before-seen footage of the insurrection on the Capitol building. The committee also interviewed a pair of key witnesses from the scene, including an injured Capitol police officer and the documentarian who provided much of the footage that was first shown to the public in the two-hour primetime television event.
In May, Fox’s Tucker Carlson averaged 3.233 million total viewers (522,000 in the demo) and Sean Hannity drew 2.720 million per evening (428,000 in the demo). The combination of the 8 p.m. program and the 9 o’clock show was steady with its May total-viewer averages, up a bit in the demo, and up a bit more vs. June’s to-date numbers. Beyond the (very valid) argument surrounding journalistic integrity, it’s hard to fault the counterprogramming maneuver.
CNN and MSNBC skew left and younger, often dividing liberal viewers of cable news programming between themselves. Oops, they did it again.
We’ll get final broadcast figures — and an all-in tally of TV viewers — from Nielsen in a few hours.