Thursday's primetime broadcast of the January 6 committee's first hearing about the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol drew in nearly 20 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Per The New York Times, that number is comparable to viewership for major television events like a marquee Sunday Night Football game or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Almost all of the major broadcast networks suspended their usual primetime programming for the evening to air the hearing. ABC led the broadcast networks in most viewers with 5.2 million, followed by MSNBC with just over 4 million, NBC and CBS with a little more than 3 million each, and CNN with 2.7 million. Fox News chose not to air the hearing on its main news channel, instead airing it on its lesser-viewed network, Fox Business channel, which drew in a little over 200,000 viewers. According to Nielsen's half-hour breakdowns, those who tuned into the hearing generally watched the entire broadcast, as viewership remained steady between the full two-hour proceeding.
Although the viewership numbers are significantly smaller than that of other major political programmings such as the presidential debates or State of the Union addresses, which draw in numbers closer to the 60-70 million range, 20 million viewers is far larger of an audience than typically tune into to daytime congressional hearings.
The second January 6 committee hearing is set to air Monday, June 13.
Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.