The gripping testimonies of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of a sex assault in their youth, captivated America on Thursday, with Fox News dominating cable news viewership, early Nielsen ratings data showed.
Fox News averaged a whopping 5.7 million viewers from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET during the hourslong hearing on Thursday, topping MSNBC (2.9 million) and CNN (2.5 million) combined.
Fox News also dominated in the key demographic of adults ages 25-54, averaging 1.1 million viewers versus 736,000 for CNN and 464,000 for MSNBC.
FNC’s coverage, anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum with Chris Wallace, was up 253 percent in total viewers and 275 percent in the demo compared with the network’s third-quarter average for the time slot.
Fox News’ special coverage at 5 and 6 p.m. ET even attracted a larger audience than heavily promoted season premieres later in the evening -- for instance, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and CBS’ “Murphy Brown” return to the airwaves.
Fox News also beat the broadcast networks among total viewers and the demo, as ABC affiliates averaged 3.5 million while CBS and NBC affiliates averaged 3.2 million apiece. None of the broadcast networks topped the one-million plateau among viewers ages 25-54.
Ford, a California professor, has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault during a high school house party in the 1980s. The judge has flatly denied the allegation, and did so again, vehemently, during the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The hearing had no shortage of memorable, news-making moments such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., expressing his frustration with the process. (That process gained a dramatic new dimension on Friday as President Trump, at the urging of some senators, ordered the FBI to conduct a further, limited investigation before a floor vote on the Supreme Court nomination.)
Fox News averaged 5.5 million prime-time viewers while MSNBC averaged 3.2 million viewers from 8-11 p.m. ET. Fox News topped CNN by 190 percent, as Jeff Zucker’s network finished a distant third in prime time -- averaging 1.9 million viewers.
FNC also led the way during prime time among the key demo, averaging 1.3 million viewers age 25-54 with MSNBC and CNN failing to crack the 1-million-viewer plateau.
“Hannity” was the most-watched cable news program across the board, averaging 5.9 million total viewers and 1.4 million in the key demo. “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” The Ingraham Angle” and “Fox @ Night with Shannon Bream” all joined Sean Hannity by winning their respective timeslots in both categories, too.
Ford and Kavanaugh also boosted Fox News Digital to its highest number of politics page views, video initiates and time spent on the platform in 2018. The livestream of the hearing drove 3 million video starts on Thursday – helping make it the highest day of video initiates this year.
The hearing and other video content resulted in eight million livestream video initiates across Fox News Digital on Thursday.
All ratings data is courtesy of early Nielsen ratings.