U.S. impeachment hearing TV audience less than for Kavanaugh or Comey: Nielsen data

A text message is displayed at a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The first televised hearing of the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday attracted an estimated 13.8 million viewers across 10 broadcast and cable television networks, according to Nielsen ratings data.

The audience for the six-hour proceeding, while larger than average weekday viewing, fell short of the TV audience for other recent political events that riveted the country.

About 20 million U.S. TV viewers watched congressional testimony in 2018 of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on six networks, according to Nielsen. At that hearing, Stanford University professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexual assault. Kavanaugh denied the charges and was confirmed to the court.

In July 2017, about 19.5 million Americans tuned in when former FBI Director James Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his dealings with Trump, according to Nielsen data from 10 networks.

A July 2019 hearing in which former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election attracted roughly 13 million viewers on seven networks, Nielsen’s data showed.

The numbers do not reflect people who streamed the hearings on phones and computers or followed proceedings on social media.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Helen Coster; Editing by Howard Goller and Lisa Shumaker