CNN’s Capitol Riot Coverage Resulted in Highest Viewership in Network’s History

CNN averaged 5.221 million viewers in total day ratings on Wednesday, when pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol.
Supporters of Donald Trump
Supporters of Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

CNN’s coverage of the pro-Donald Trump mob that invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday resulted in the highest viewership for the network in its history.

CNN parent company WarnerMedia announced on Thursday that, per Nielsen data, the network averaged 5.221 million viewers in “total day” ratings, which is the 24-hour period that began at 3 a.m. on Wednesday. MSNBC came in second place in total day ratings among the cable news networks with an average of 4.006 million viewers. Fox News came in third place with 2.988 million average viewers.

CNN’s primetime coverage of the Wednesday riot also received more viewers than coverage at competing networks: CNN’s evening reports received an average of 8.203 million viewers, followed by MSNBC at 7.382 million; NBC, 5.774 million; ABC, 4.882 million; Fox News, 4.577 million; and CBS, 2.571 million.

CNN removed its cable authentication for online viewers shortly after 3 p.m. ET, which allowed online users to view the network even if they did not have a cable provider. The network’s live viewing peaked at 1.8 million unique viewers at 4:15 p.m. ET, surpassing the peak 2020 United States election levels by nearly 700 thousand, according to WarnerMedia.

News organizations planned on dedicating most of their Wednesday political coverage to the certification of president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 United States presidential election. Those plans were upended when hundreds of President Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol in a riot against the election results. Trump held a rally prior to the riot where he claimed that “we will never concede.” Photojournalist Ron Haviv, who covered the Capitol riot and previously covered a coup attempt in Panama, told The New Republic on Thursday that “there was no leadership, there was no plan. Also, there was no target” during the mob’s ransacking of the building.

Five people died due to the Wednesday riot, including one Capitol police officer. Trump released a contradictory video during the riot where he simultaneously praised the rioters and expressed a wish for them to remain peaceful. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment on Thursday to remove Trump from office. Trump released a video on Thursday denouncing the rioters and stated that “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20.”

Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was certified early Thursday. He will be inaugurated in 13 days.

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.