Nonstop news coverage of the U.S. Capitol siege by supporters of President Trump rocketed daytime Wednesday viewing to historic numbers.
Both CNN and MSNBC recorded the highest-ever total day ratings ever -- a Nielsen-measured 5.2 million viewers and 4 million respectively, looking at live program-plus same-day time-shifted viewing.
Fox News Channel came in at 3.0 million viewers. Fox says it earned its highest total day and prime-time total viewers since the November 2020 election.
Total day viewing among the top three cable TV news networks -- CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC -- was up a massive 254% to 12.2 million viewers versus a 4.8 million average in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Prime-time numbers for January 6 viewing among the collective three cable TV networks was also sharply higher -- 235% to 20.2 million from a 8.6 million average in the fourth quarter of 2020.
During the key daytime hours of 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET, there were a total 28.9 million average viewers among five TV networks -- CNN, Fox News Channel, ABC and CBS -- watching the news coverage. (NBC daytime ratings weren’t available at press time.)
CNN earned the highest numbers during this key live news period -- at 9.4 million viewers. Fox News Channel was next at 6.1 million. MSNBC was close behind at 5.8 million. Preliminary results for broadcast networks ABC (4.85 million) and CBS (3.7 million) followed.
CNN viewing peaked in the 4 p.m. hour at 10.2 million viewers. Fox News Channel at 4 p.m. had 6.5 million viewers, and MSNBC saw 6.4 million.
Preliminary total prime-time viewing among six TV networks -- 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. -- totaled 33.4 million. CNN posted the best results in prime time: 8.2 million. MSNBC was next, at 7.4 million, followed by NBC, 5.8 million; ABC, 4.9 million; Fox News Channel, 4.6 million; and CBS, 2.6 million.
Among key 25-54 viewers that TV networks watch closely, CNN was also tops among all channels with 3.09 million in the afternoon from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and 3.11 million in prime time in the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET time period.