Yesterday Was CNN’s Most-Watched Day Ever

Capitol riot was bad for our democracy, good for the breaking-news business

capitol riots cable news ratings

The coverage of the siege on the U.S. Capitol building drove CNN to record ratings. In fact, Wednesday was the most-watched day in the network’s history.

In addition, more TV viewers got their news via CNN than on any other TV channel. Yes, that includes broadcast television as well as cable — and it holds true for any part of the day.

From 8 to 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, CNN averaged 8.203 million total primetime viewers to competitor MSNBC’s 7.382 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. Fox News finished in third place among the cable news networks — but not third overall, more on that in a bit — with an average of 4.577 million total viewers across those three hours.

In “total day” ratings, which examines the 24-hour period beginning at 3 a.m. on Wednesday, CNN averaged 5.221 million total viewers to MSNBC’s 4.006 million total viewers and Fox News Channel’s 2.988 million total viewers.

The 1. CNN, 2. MSNBC, 3. Fox News order among the cable news channels maintained in the key news demographic of adults 25-54.

On broadcast, NBC averaged 5.774 million total viewers throughout its three-hour primetime coverage of the sad day in our nation’s history. ABC News’ efforts averaged 4.882 million total viewers, good for second place on the free over-the-air networks.

Meanwhile, CBS aired a pair of sitcom repeats in the 8 o’clock hour before going to live news coverage from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. The two hours’ worth of Capitol coverage averaged just 2.571 million total viewers, putting CBS in last place among TV’s main primetime news telecasts.

Last night, Fox’s broadcast net stuck with its as-planned primetime lineup of “The Masked Dancer” and the series premiere of its “Name That Tune” reboot, leaving the politics to sister channel Fox News. Find all of broadcast television’s primetime ratings for Wednesday night here.

All of that means the primetime order last night among the channels covering the riot was: 1. CNN, 2. MSNBC, 3. NBC, 4. ABC, 5. Fox News, 6. CBS.

It’s a bit cloudier to compare broadcast’s daytime-hours coverage with cable news, but it is safe to say CNN beat the daylights out of everyone during the daylight too.

Chaos erupted at the Capitol during a joint session of Congress during which elected officials were expected to certify Biden’s election win. Numerous Republican lawmakers declared their intention to object before the confirmation, aligning themselves with Trump, who has falsely claimed since November that the Democratic party’s win is attributable to widespread election fraud.

Protesters, encouraged by Trump for days, descended on the city to protest the certification. Some eventually broke into the building, resulting in a lockdown and a delay in the process.

Biden’s win was certified on Thursday.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.