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Alex Brandon / AP

Parts of fired FBI Director James Comey's Thursday Senate testimony were seen by 89 million people on Facebook. Nielsen estimates 19.5 million people saw it on live television.

Why this matters: The high-profile Congressional hearing (McCarthy, Iran-Contra, Anita-Hill) used to be prime spots for television. Now those audiences are shifting online. In addition to Facebook, 2.7 million people watched it on Twitter's Bloomberg co-branded livestream. (One caveat: a Facebook view can be as short as 3 seconds, so a direct comparison to TV ratings is inexact.)

The TV viewership was less than some historic television hearings: 85% of American TV households tuned in to the Watergate hearings and 55 million people watched the Iran-contra hearings over the course of a week

According to data analytics firm Chartbeat, more than 900,000 people were reading Comey-related articles across the web at any 5-minute interval throughout the 10:00 a.m. and 1:00p.m. hours on Thursday. Chartbeat also found that the amount of time spent (minutes per page) spiked by nearly 20% during the hearing, likely due to viewers keeping livestreams of the hearing open in their browsers. According to Chartbeat Head of Product and Engineering Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat measured similar spikes during the election.

Generational divide: On TV, the majority of 19.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen, were age 55+, but on Twitter, the majority (88%) of logged-in live viewers under the age of 35. Social Gut Check: Twitter estimates 3.6 million Tweets were sent from 7a.m.-1:30pm Thursday discussing Comey's testimony, which is small in comparison to the 27 million+ tweets sent during the Super Bowl this year. Facebook says there were 8 million comments, reactions, and shares on its platform in relation to the hearing on Thursday.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

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