CNN says it had its 'most watched day in history' amid Capitol riots

CNN says it had its 'most watched day in history' amid Capitol riots
© Getty Images

CNN had its most-watched day in the network’s history on Wednesday, with more than 5 million viewers tuning in to coverage of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol. 

According to a press release from CNN on Thursday, which included program data from Nielsen, about 5.221 million total viewers watched the network’s reporting Wednesday, outperforming MSNBC and Fox News in both total day and prime-time viewership, as well as in the key demographic of adults ages 25 to 54. 

From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., CNN averaged 8.203 million total prime-time viewers to MSNBC’s 7.382 million, according to Nielsen. Fox News came in third place among the cable news networks with an average of 4.577 million total viewers in the three-hour period. 


As Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in protest of Congress’s planned vote to certify President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE’s Electoral College win, about 72 million people tuned into CNN Digital, with a peak streaming audience of 1.8 million viewers by the late afternoon. 

This comes as CNN also noted that it ranks No. 1 among all cable networks in both total day and daytime viewership since the November elections, which continued through Tuesday with the Georgia Senate runoff elections that saw wins from both Democratic candidates, the Rev. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockKelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Overnight Energy & Environment — Lummis holds up Biden EPA picks Dems block Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill MORE and Jon OssoffJon OssoffTwo-thirds of Americans support banning lawmakers from trading stocks: poll On the Money — Student borrowers stare down rising prices Top Biden adviser expresses support for ban on congressional stock trades MORE, giving Democrats majorities in both chambers of Congress. 

Fox News, meanwhile, said that Wednesday saw its highest total day and primetime averages in total viewers since the network's post-election coverage in November, and's live blog had its second highest day in total online traffic. 

The chaos at the Capitol on Wednesday carried on for hours as rioters overtook the complex, forcing the House and the Senate to gavel out early. 

Video footage aired by CNN and other outlets showed rioters breaking into the Senate chamber, where they sat in the presiding officer's chair, dangled from the balcony and roamed about the visitor's galleries. 

They also vandalized Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTwo-thirds of Americans support banning lawmakers from trading stocks: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Watch: Lawmakers, activists, family members call for voting rights legislation on MLK day MORE's (D-Calif.) office just off the Capitol Rotunda, left trash throughout the Capitol and broke windows and glass in numerous other doors throughout the Capitol. 

Trump ahead of the events urged his supporters at a rally earlier Wednesday to march on Congress. Trump for weeks has repeated unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was “fraudulent” and “stolen.” 


On Thursday, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, D.C. identified dozens of people they are accusing of “unlawful entry” at the Capitol, which forced lawmakers, staff and reporters to flee the area. 

Police announced Wednesday after many of the rioters dispersed that four people had died, including one woman who was shot by a plainclothes Capitol Police officer. The three other fatalities occurred due to “separate medical emergencies.” 

Fifty-two people were arrested, and police also discovered two pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee.

—Updated Friday at 4:40 p.m.