UPDATE, 2:15 PM: No word yet on what the number of senators voting to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court will be, or whether the GOP will be forced to go nuclear and smash any filibuster effort by the Democrats. But we do know how many people tuned in Tuesday to watch President Donald Trump make his High Court pick public.
About 32.4 million tuned in at 8 PM ET last night to watch the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host take over primetime with the much-hyped Gorsuch announcement. The 18-minute event live from the White House was covered by CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. The House of Moonves had the most viewers with 7.97 million, followed by Fox News’ 7.56 million.
Among the Big 4, NBC was No. 2 with 5.91 million viewers, while ABC had 5.18 million and, with FNC’s Shep Smith hosting, Fox snared 2.2 million. Way behind top cabler FNC, CNN and MSNBC were almost tied with 2.03 million and 1.57 million, respectively.
It’s nowhere apples to SCOTUS, but Trump’s focused and relatively short primetime stint last night was down 34% in total viewership from what President Barack Obama drew for his first primetime press conference on February 9, 2009. That wide-ranging presser in much more dire economic times went from 8-9 PM.
PREVIOUS, 9:10 AM: After nearly two weeks in office, President Donald Trump came back to primetime on all the networks in full Celebrity Apprentice mode with a full-throated “you’re hired” for his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. And you could tell the Commander-in-Chief was loving every minute of it.
“So, was that a surprise, was it?” POTUS asked the crowd in the White House and watching on TV just after 8 PM ET last night as the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge and his wife joined him at the podium. What wasn’t a surprise was the sheer showmanship of the SCOTUS announcement by Trump as all of the Big 4 gave over most of their 8-8:30 PM slots to the live event. It was a bit of a split result with NBC’s 8-8:17 PM coverage scoring among adults 18-49 with a 1.2/4 rating but getting 5.87 million viewers. CBS’ 8-8:22 PM coverage got the most eyeballs with 7.43 million watching but pulled in a 1.0/4 in the demo.
Pushing its schedule over the whole night, ABC’s 8-8: 18 PM coverage of the Trump SCOTUS show drew a 0.9/4 rating and 4.69 million viewers. Fox’s coverage of the announcement had a 0.6/2 rating and 2.07 million viewers before going right into a New Girl repeat.
With all that on the Big 4, The Flash (1.1/4) and DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow (0.7/3) had a good night as did the CW itself. Up 17% from its January 24 results, the net matched Fox with the night’s second-highest overall demo rating with a 0.9/3 behind NBC’s 1.2/4. After last week’s series low, the Scarlet Speedster surged 22% among adults 18-49 and 13% in viewers to 3.04 million. Legends only saw a bop up of 3% in viewers from last week but a solid 17% rise in the demo in the 9 PM time slot against CBS’ annual Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials (0.9/3) special, Fox’s Bones (0.9/3) and NBC’s The Wall (1.4/5).
Outside of its regular 8 PM slot, the Chris Hardwick-hosted reality show was the night’s top-rated show but down 13% from last week. That’s better than the fall the encore-heavy House of Moonves Super Bowl ad special did, with the one-hour 2017 version down 55% from the two-hour special that aired February 2, 2016.
Bones was the same as last week, but its 8:30 PM lead-in comedy The Mick (1.1/4) was up a tenth from its January 24 episode. ABC’s only original of the night was 10 PM’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (0.6/2), which was even with last week.
As Helen Thomas used to say, Thank you Mr. President.