Peak 2017? Lebron James and James Comey Drove Similar TV Ratings



Bloomberg TV’s Twitter livestream of the former FBI Director’s testimony commanded 2.8 million (mostly millennial) viewers.

The unfolding political drama is big business for media companies and advertisers. The Associated Press has reported that former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee drove a staggering 19.5 million viewers. In other words, it was “Washington’s Super Bowl.”

For context, this year’s NBA Finals—which have delivered the biggest viewership numbers since Michael Jordan was in the game—snagged a Nielsen metered marketing rating of 16.0, with most games in the series commanding 19 to 20 million viewers.

On the social side of things, Bloomberg TV was granted exclusive rights to livestream the historic event via its @business account, following a newly minted partnership between the two parties back in May. Representing an early win for the partnership, Twitter announced that 2.8 million people turned into the hearing on its platform, 88 percent of which were millennials.

For context, each of the major television networks put up similar numbers for their own coverage of the testimony. ABC and CBS reported 3.3 million viewers with Fox and CNN following closely behind at 3.1 million. MSNBC drew 2.8 million viewers, and NBC posted 2.7 million. So, not only did Bloomberg’s Twitter livestream compete with these players, but they also commanded a larger share of young adults: the most coveted demographic for many advertisers who spend money across the major networks.

The Bloomberg TV deal and the numbers delivered for the Comey testimony are good news for Twitter’s future aspirations by way of social TV. Twitter’s NFL livestream partnership was widely reported as “underwhelming“—namely due to the majority of people not watching full games—but it is perhaps the case that breaking news events are more natural to the platform than live sports.

Of course, Bloomberg TV and Twitter are also benefitting from a larger swell when it comes to public interest in politics following the presidential election. Cable news ratings have climbed, with MSNBC and CNN boasting substantial first quarter gains in early 2017. Per The Hill, MSNBC witnessed more growth than any other network when compared to Q1 of 2016 recording a 61 percent increase in primetime total viewers and a 49 percent increase in viewers between the ages of 24 and 54. CNN drew in more viewers ages 25 to 54 and overall since the beginning of the Iraq War.

With these results, some pundits are predicting that the business of news (including the cable networks and, arguably, even Twitter) are  “poised for unprecedented growth.”


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