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State Department official George Kent and acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor. Photo: Joshua Roberts/ Pool/Getty Images

The first televised impeachment hearing drew a sizable audience of about 13 million live viewers, according to early Nielsen ratings released by Fox News on Thursday.

Yes, but: Those numbers, while big, are smaller than the viewership of other major Trump-era political hearings. About 19.5 million people tuned in live to James Comey's testimony in June 2017, and about 20 million watched the Brett Kavanaugh hearing in Sept. 2018.

By the numbers: Fox News led the cable networks in total live viewers from 10 am to 4 pm with nearly 2.9 million viewers tuning into testimony from State Department official George Kent and acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor. MSNBC followed close behind with nearly 2.7 million viewers. CNN trailed in third place for the cable networks with around 1.8 million viewers.

  • All the major broadcast networks veered away from their regularly scheduled programs to air the hearing. ABC drew the most viewers with a little more than 2 million, and CBS followed with almost 2 million viewers. NBC had around 1.7 million viewers.
  • Many other people likely watched the testimony and questioning via streaming platforms, but to-date there is no way of measuring those live views precisely.

Our thought bubble: An impeachment hearing, one might think, would be a must-see event for Americans. But several factors may have resulted in fewer people watching this hearing than other Trump-era hearings.

  • It's also possible that Americans have started to tune out impeachment content as the saga has dragged on.
  • The release of the July 25 Ukraine call transcripts ahead of the hearings could have driven viewers to think that they would glean minimal new information from the hearings.
  • It also seems unlikely, at this point, that the hearings will sway the minds of loyal Senate Republicans. Some Americans might have made the hearings a low priority, given that the Senate is expected to clear the president.

What's next: The second televised hearing will occur Friday morning.

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.