ABC News, George Stephanopoulos, and Democrats were hoping for a big response to the much-publicized James Comey interview they broadcast Sunday night. It didn’t happen.
In fact, viewers were more interested in Roseanne, country music, and porn stars than Comey.
The Comey interview pulled in 9.8 million viewers, which is a good-sized audience. However, it failed to be the biggest program of the night, as the Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS pulled in an average of over 12 million viewers. By contrast, the Stormy Daniels interview on 60 Minutes the previous Sunday had over 22 million viewers.
Even worse for Democrats, the James Comey interview earned only half the viewers the “Roseanne” premiere pulled in, which registered 18.4 million viewers over three weeks ago.
Comey had to battle for viewers who tuned into the country music awards and the season finale of “The Walking Dead.” He lost.
The ABC News interview, Sunday’s second in so many weeks to take aim at the Trump administration after 60 Minutes’ ratings hit interview with Stormy Daniels, averaged 9.8 million viewers and a 2.4 rating in the news demo of adults 25-54 for the network. It was a vast improvement from its American Idol lead-in, at a season low with a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 6.3 million viewers, building on the lead-in among both total viewers and the younger demo.
The former FBI director, who has a book coming out, used his time with Stephanopoulos to detail his time working with the president before his 2017 firing. He called Trump “morally unfit” for the job and suggested that one of their meetings could be evidence of obstruction. For a quick comparison to the most recent broadcast tell-all on Trump, ABC didn’t even manage half of what Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes earned with its more-hyped interview with alleged Trump paramour Stormy Daniels. That skyrocketed to 22 million viewers.
CBS was unbeatable during primetime, however. Even though Comey’s interview took a bite out of the last hour of the country awards, the ACMAs were up from 2017 with an average 12.1 million viewers. In the key demo, the show held the most recent score of a 2.1 rating. (60 Minutes, earlier in the night, was also a better performer than ABC. 10.4 million watched at 7 p.m.)
Sunday’s biggest story, at least in the key demo, is almost assuredly AMC’s The Walking Dead. The cable drama aired its eighth season finale. Those numbers will arrive on Tuesday.
Here is a clip from the interview, released by ABC News.