On Thursday night, as the Jan. 6 Committee convened to start their hearings, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MI) boasted, “The world is watching what we do here.”
According to preliminary ratings figures from Nielsen, the world might have been watching, but most Americans had better things to do.
The New York Times tried to hype the number of people watching the hearings by writing breathlessly, “An audience of at least 20 million people watched the first prime-time hearing of the House Select Committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on Thursday night, according to Nielsen.”
But as The Federalist pointed out, that wasn’t much to brag about:
According to preliminary ratings figures from Nielsen published by The New York Times, more than 19 million tuned in for what was anticipated to be a blockbuster event. While 19 million may seem high at first glance, a look at what cable and broadcast networks typically pull for an average evening reveals Thursday’s viewership as little to brag about, especially when all but one, Fox News, aired the livestream.
The three major networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC, pulled in a total of 11 million viewers. But AdWeek noted for the week of May 30 that those networks’ evening programs collectively averaged seven million more viewers than the number on Thursday night.
“Though the Thursday night figure pales next to presidential debates (63 million to 73 million) or this year’s State of the Union address (38 million), it’s still much larger than the audience that would normally watch a daytime congressional hearing,” The New York Times reluctantly admitted.
The hard-core leftists watching CNN and MSNBC did give them a bump as they drew 2.6 and 4.1 million viewers respectively.
The Washington Free Beacon pointed out that CBS might have done better had they not bumped a “Young Sheldon” rerun from its 8 p.m. primetime slot in order to broadcast the hearings.
The decision backfired. Just 3.24 million people watched the network’s “Capitol Assault Hearings” coverage Thursday night, according to the TV Ratings Guide. Exactly one week prior, 3.86 million people tuned into CBS to watch a Young Sheldon rerun, meaning an old episode of the coming-of-age sitcom garnered roughly 600,000 more viewers than the inaugural hearing.
If CBS had run a new “Young Sheldon” episode, the gap likely would have grown far greater:
That gap is even more pronounced for new Young Sheldon episodes. More than seven million people, for example, watched the show’s season five finale, titled “A Clogged Pore, a Little Spanish, and the Future,” during CBS’s 8 p.m. slot on Thursday, May 19. Three weeks earlier, 6.9 million people watched a new episode titled, “Uncle Sheldon and a Hormonal Firecracker.
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