12.3 Million Viewers Watched Impeachment Day 2: CNN, MSNBC Saw Major Audience Gains, Fox Viewership Dropped


Roughly 12.34 million viewers tuned in to watch the second day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, a 12% increase over Tuesday. MSNBC and CNN saw the biggest gains among the cable news networks, while Fox News viewership declined by more than 30%.

From 12 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, MSNBC averaged the most total viewers, 3.53 million, a 23% increase over Tuesday’s impeachment trial viewership. The network amassed 507,000 in the key demographic of viewers age 25–54, a 5.2% increase, according to Nielsen data.

CNN had the second-most total viewers during the trial, nearly 3.2 million, a 20% increase over the day before. CNN was also first in the demo, averaging 720,000 viewers, a 21.2% increase.

Fox News saw a significant drop in both total viewers and in the demo on the trial’s second day, averaging 1.23 million total viewers during impeachment coverage, a 36.8% decrease, and 162,000 in the demo, a 36.5% decrease.

The 12% jump in total TV viewership from Tuesday’s 11.02 million viewers was a marked difference from the 20% audience drop-off between day one and day two of Trump’s first impeachment trial in January 2020, when viewership fell from 11 million on the first day to 8.8 million on the second, according to the New York Times.

Boosted by big impeachment viewership, MSNBC won in total day viewers, averaging 2.78 million, and 456,000 in the demo. CNN was first in the demo, with 594,000, and second in total viewers, with 2.34 million. Fox came in third in both categories, averaging 1.49 million total viewers, and 230,000 in the demo.

Prime time was a similar story, with MSNBC averaging the most viewers overall, 3.73 million, and the second-most in the demo, 660,000. CNN was again first among prime time viewers in the demo, with 763,000, and 2.75 million total. Fox News wasn’t far behind in total viewers in prime time, with 2.73 million, and had the fewest in the demo, 424,000.

The Rachel Maddow Show, a consistent top performer for MSNBC, was the most-watched show of the day, with 4.45 million total viewers, and was third in the demo, with 843,000. CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer was first in the demo, with a whopping 931,000 viewers in the A25–54 audience, and 3.61 million total viewers. With Maddow at the top, MSNBC had nine out of the 10 most-watched shows of the day, including late-afternoon impeachment coverage in the 4 p.m. hour (4.4 million total, 669,000 in the demo), and Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace in third, with 4.24 million total and 711,000 in the demo; CNN’s Blitzer held the eighth-place spot. MSNBC also had six out of the 10 most-watched shows in the demo, with CNN getting the other four spots, including the top two: Blitzer and Anderson Cooper 360, with 899,000 viewers in the demo (3.23 million total).

Notably, Tucker Carlson Tonight, which is regularly the most-watched or second most-watched show of the day, dropped to 13th in total viewers Wednesday, with 3.1 million total viewers, and was 15th in the demo, with 485,000 – solid numbers on any given night, but just not enough to catch up to the competition during impeachment coverage.

In the early morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe was most-watched in both total audience, with 1.48 million, and in the demo, with 262,000. Fox & Friends was second in total viewers, with 1.11 million, and 169,000. New Day on CNN had the fewest total viewers, 785,000, but the second-most in the demo, 205,000.

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