CNN has best ratings day ever for Capitol attack

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Violent protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

NEW YORK – The attack on the U.S. Capitol last week brought more viewers to CNN than any other single day in the network's 40-year history.

CNN averaged 5.2 million viewers last Wednesday, eclipsing its previous high of 5.1 million on Election Day 2016, the Nielsen company said. The network had 4.47 million viewers on Sept. 11, 2001, Nielsen said.

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During the storming of the Capitol itself on Wednesday afternoon, CNN averaged nearly 9 million viewers. CNN also led all of the cable news and broadcast networks during prime-time that evening, when Nielsen estimated more than 33 million people tuned in to watch Congress go back into session to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

MSNBC averaged 4 million viewers on Wednesday and Fox News Channel had 3 million.

NBC, led by a strong NFL playoff game Sunday night between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, was the top broadcast network last week, averaging 8.6 million viewers in prime time. CBS had 5.7 million, ABC had 3.8 million, Fox had 2.5 million, Univision had 1.4 million, Ion Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 920,000.

CNN averaged 4.11 million viewers in prime time, beating all the cable networks. MSNBC had 3.67 million, Fox News Channel had 3.1 million, HGTV had 1.12 million and Hallmark had 1.05 million.

ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race, averaging 9.2 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 7.9 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.8 million.

For the week, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewership:

1. NFL Football: Cleveland at Pittsburgh, NBC, 24.78 million.

2. “NFL Postgame" (Sunday), CBS, 19.33 million.

3. “NFL Pregame,” NBC, 16.01 million.

4. “NFL Postgame” (Saturday, 8:13-8:19 p.m.), Fox, 14.91 million.

5. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 14.8 million.

6. “NFL Postgame” (Saturday, 8:19-8:25 p.m.), Fox, 9.47 million.

7. “Anderson Cooper 360” (Wednesday), CNN, 8.87 million.

8. “Cuomo Prime Time” (Wednesday), CNN, 8.79 million.

9. “Capitol Attack” (Wednesday, 8:06 p.m.), MSNBC, 8.49 million.

10. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC, 8.15 million.

11. “CNN Tonight” (Wednesday), CNN, 7.8 million.

12. “The Rachel Maddow Show” (Wednesday), MSNBC, 7.77 million.

13. “Last Word” (Wednesday), MSNBC, 6.79 million.

14. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.56 million.

15. “The Chase,” ABC, 6.49 million.

16. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 6.21 million.

17. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Wednesday), Fox News Channel, 6 million.

18. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 5.89 million.

19. "Magnum, P.I., CBS, 5.87 million.

20. “Anderson Cooper 360” (Thursday), CNN, 5.8 million.