That’s way less than the Super Bowl, but a bigger audience than caught recent season finales of “Game of Thrones” and “American Idol”
James Comey, the former FBI director who was abruptly terminated by Donald Trump last month, is a ratings juggernaut. 19.5 million Americans tuned in on Thursday to watch the 56-year-old former deputy attorney general accuse the President of defaming him and the FBI, data from Nielsen show. Comey’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee had been highly anticipated and was aired on ten different major American networks, though not all of them carried the entire three hour event.
To put that in perspective, more Americans watched the ex G-man answer questions from the likes of Sens. John McCain and Mark Warner than tuned in to catch the most recent season finales of “Game of Thrones” (8.9 million) and “This Is Us” (12.84 million) within 24 hours. The hearing also outshone the series finale of “American Idol” in 2015, when 10.2 million saw Caleb Johnson grab a crown first worn by Kelly Clarkson.
The ratings for the political theater on Capitol Hill are even more impressive when you consider that the hearing took place between approximately 10am and 1pm ET, hours when many Americans are at work. By contrast, the likes of “Idol” and “Game of Thrones” first aired during primetime hours. (The Comey testimony, of course, aired on multiple networks.)
That said, Comey couldn’t dethrone live sporting events, arguably the only occasion in which mass audiences still tune in ensemble. 111.3 million caught the Super Bowl LI on Fox this past February; a huge number, though less than other football championship events of previous years.
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