At least 18 million people watched former FBI director James Comey’s dramatic testimony on Thursday about his dealings with President Donald Trump, according to preliminary ratings information from TV networks.
U.S. broadcast networks interrupted regular programing to air live coverage of Comey’s more than two hours of remarks before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Early Nielsen data showed that 18.2 million people tuned in to the hearing on six broadcast and cable television networks. Updated figures with additional channels were expected to be released later on Friday.
Football’s Super Bowl, traditionally the year’s most-watched U.S. television broadcast, attracted 111 million viewers in February. Trump’s inauguration in January drew an audience of nearly 31 million.
During his appearance, Comey said he believed the president dismissed him in May to try to undermine a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team and Russia.
Trump on Friday said Comey’s testimony showed “no obstruction.”
The television ratings do not include the crowds that watched the highly anticipated congressional hearing at bars and restaurants around the country or online through services like Twitter and YouTube.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler)