Nearly 20 million watched Comey's testimony on TV

Nearly 20 million watched Comey's testimony on TV
© Greg Nash

Nearly 20 million Americans tuned in to watch former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before Congress on TV this week, according to data released Friday.

An estimated 19.5 million tuned in for Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to Nielsen data.

All major broadcast and cable news networks carried the late-morning hearing live, pre-empting regular programming during the more than two-hour event.

ABC drew the largest audience with 3.3 million viewers from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, followed closely by CBS, according to Nielsen data.

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Fox News led among cable outlets, with 3.1 million viewers, while CNN scored first in the younger 25 to 54-year-old demographic coveted by advertisers, followed by NBC and ABC.

Comey's hearing was the most dramatic testimony on Capitol Hill in years, featuring an ousted FBI chief accusing the sitting president's administration of lying about him and his former bureau.

The hearing dominated discussion on television and in Washington this week, which the Trump administration planned to use to focus on its infrastructure agenda. 

Past congressional testimonies have similarly drawn large audiences. In 1991, more than 20 million households tuned into watch Anita Hill's testimony alleging that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, according to CBS News.