The number will increase slightly on the addition of other networks and out-of-home viewing, but is sure to be less than the House committee had hoped when scheduling its prime time presentation.
Audience analytics firm Nielsen expects to have a final viewership figure on Friday evening, according to the New York Times.
The figure is nowhere near the amount of viewers that presidential debates garner, which range from 63 million to 73 million, and it’s well below this year’s State of the Union address (38 million).
At about 20 million viewers, the hearing’s viewership across eight networks is most comparable to a single network’s broadcast of a “Sunday Night Football” game.
By network, ABC won the night with 4.8 million viewers. MSNBC was a close second at 4.2 million. NBC and CBS each had just over 3 million. CNN was the clear loser with just 2.6 million viewers.
Fox News, which did not carry the hearings live, held an average audience of about 3 million, typical for the network’s weeknight audience. Hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity dedicated their shows to the topic and had the hearings playing live in a split screen, but the feed was muted while they provided commentary.
“It’s deranged, and we’re not playing along,” Carlson said of the committee’s hearing. “This is the only hour on an American news channel that will not be carrying their propaganda live. They are lying, and we are not going to help them do it. What we will do instead is to try to tell you the truth.”