White House press secretary Sean Spicer's briefings have proved to be ratings gold for the cable news networks, even beating soap operas like "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "General Hospital" on broadcast networks CBS and ABC.
Spicer’s briefings, carried live by Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, are delivering an average of 4.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. Statistics show that across Fox, CNN and MSNBC, audiences jump by an average of 10 percentage points when Spicer appears on screen for the briefings.
What some outlets like The New York Times have called "the soap opera at the White House" is actually beating the fictional long-running soaps, which usually air in the same hour of the early afternoon.
Spicer's briefings from the beginning have been marked by confrontations between the spokesman and the press corps, which even led to a viral "Saturday Night Live" skit starring comic actress Melissa McCarthy as a combative, blustering Spicer. The skit is so popular that it has become one of the most viral skits in "SNL" history, having been shared across social media millions of times since last Saturday.
Interest in politics, particularly in the unpredictable Trump administration, has led to huge ratings on cable news throughout the day — and especially in prime time.