Comey hearing draws massive online crowds
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.