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Brett Kavanaugh. Photo: Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images.

20 million people tuned in to at least part of the Kavanaugh hearings on TV Thursday, just slightly higher than the final number of Americans who watched the James Comey hearings on TV last year.

Why it matters: The drama has captured the attention of the nation because of its historic implications both for the makeup of the Supreme Court for the next several decades and for the momentum of the #MeToo movement.

Yes but: These are preliminary ratings and they don't include digital viewership on social media or streaming sites. A final number will be released by Nielsen on Monday.

By the numbers: According to Nielsen, the common coverage viewership number for the Kavanaugh/Ford Testimony yesterday among the six major broadcast and cable networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, CNN and MSNBC — was 20.4 million. This doesn't include viewership data from other networks, so it is likely to be even higher.

Millions of viewers also tuned into the hearings on digital platforms. For example, NBC says 6.8 million viewers livestreamed the hearings through NBC News digital platforms. CNN says it had its biggest day of 2018 for live streaming with 8.2 million live starts on its website and apps and more than 10 million when you include YouTube and Facebook.

In cable, Fox News dominated hearing, beating its competitors by a landslide in total viewers and in the coveted 25-54 year-old demographic, which is what's most valuable to advertisers.

  • Fox News had 5.7 million total viewers and 1.1 million in the coveted 25-54 demographic.
  • MSNBC had 2.9 million viewers and 461,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic.
  • CNN had 2.5 million total viewers and 736,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic.

In broadcast, ABC had the most total viewers, but NBC had the most viewers in the 25-54 year-old demographic.

  • NBC had 2.9 million total viewers and 749,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic.
  • ABC had 3.2 million total viewers and 691,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic.
  • CBS had 3.1 million total viewers and 632,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic.

Go deeper

Local news moves to the inbox

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.

J&J vaccine pause hurts its reputation

Reproduced from Economist/YouGov poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans' confidence in the safety of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine took a big dip this week after the pause in its use, per new YouGov polling, even though the risk of blood clots following the shot is extremely low, if it exists at all.

Why it matters: For the majority of people, particularly high-risk Americans, getting the J&J shot is almost certainly less dangerous than remaining vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Inflation will rise. Don't panic

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

It's been 40 years since America last saw a damaging level of inflation. Yet despite that — or perhaps because of it — inflation fears are widespread, and could even become self-fulfilling.

Why it matters: The government's strategy for bringing back employment and widespread prosperity involves a necessary — yet temporary — increase in inflation. When an entire generation has never experienced such a thing, that can be disconcerting. And for the time being, Americans are not buying what the government is selling.

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