When it comes to viewership on cable news, news relating to President Donald Trump continues to be one of the top drivers of numbers. On Wednesday night, Anderson Cooper 360 featured an interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg whose company has been in the news over questions about how the data Facebook collects is used. Thursday night featured an interview with Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate who has alleged an affair with Trump during the late 2000s. Both interviews were exclusives, although Zuckerberg’s interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall was only a television exclusive.
Comparing the two nights, more viewers tuned into the McDougal interview than the Zuckerberg interview.
On Wednesday, the interview aired during the 9 PM hour. Anderson Cooper 360 brought in 441,000 viewers in the advertiser-friendly 25-54 demographic and 1.3 million total viewers. Compared to his cable news counterparts, the show was third in both the demo and total viewers.
On Thursday however, the interview’s broadcast took an hour and fifteen minutes, going into both the 8 PM and 9 PM time slots. During the time period of the interview, Anderson Cooper 360 brought in 668,000 viewers in the demo and 3.3 million total viewers. MSNBC brought in 490,000 and 2.3 million viewers, respectively. Fox News brought in 585,000 and 2.8 million viewers, respectively.
There is an important note about the promotion of the respective interviews. Zuckerberg’s interview was announced only hours before it aired but McDougal’s interview was promoted on CNN throughout the week.
Regardless of promotion time, news about President Trump has an unparalleled ability to drive viewership numbers. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s show garnered her highest ever ratings last year (and the second highest for a MSNBC regularly scheduled program) after she tweeted ninety minutes beforehand, “BREAKING: We’ve got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC. (Seriously).”