Streaming Justice – The Michael Cohen Hearings

March 4, 2019

What does it look like when democracy plays out in full view of the American public? Something like what we witnessed as Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s “long-time fixer,” publicly testified before the House Oversight Committee. Streaming presents unique advantages for these monumental moments, as viewers can tune in wherever they are and chime in on social media to become part of the conversation. While this plays out on a nightly basis, some conversations are more imperative, and command more viewership, than others.

Looking at Conviva’s streaming data, viewers tuned in, and stayed tuned in to capture every sordid detail shared by Michael Cohen with viewing times for live news networks spiking 39% during the live-streamed testimony. During the testimony, viewers watched 33 minutes per play on average, 35% higher than the 24 minutes per play viewers watched in the hours following, and 69% higher than the 19.6 average Conviva measured in the 2018 State of the Streaming TV Industry report for all of 2018.

The trend line for the viewership of live streams throughout the hearing is interesting, as viewing hours spike at the outset at 6am PST and then drop rapidly during the 7am hour. As the west coast came online at 9am viewership again spiked and dropped. This indicates that viewers checked in, rapidly fatigued, but returned later in the day to check in.

Line Graph of Percent of Viewership Per Hour of Hearing (PST) of Viewing Hours Vs Plays at The Michael Cohen Hearings

Bar Graph Of Minutes Per Play During The Michael Cohen Hearings

After the hearing, plays jumped 36% higher than during Cohen’s live testimony as viewers snacked on highlights and commentary, watching fewer minutes but initiating more streams.

While connected TVs maintained their dominance with 84% of the total minutes of live streaming testimony for overall streaming viewership, viewing on PCs and mobile devices was 2x higher during the peak of the live-streamed hearing than for the day’s subsequent evening news.

Michael Cohen was also a trending topic on social media as viewers tuned in to stay up-to-the-second on the day’s hearing. As measured by Conviva Social insights, ABC News won more than half of the live streaming audience on Facebook among top news publishers with 5.5M live streaming video views and a peak concurrency over 60k. With ABC News ranked as number 1, the total viewership of the top 10 news accounts streaming the hearing on Facebook saw 9.7M live streaming video views. By comparison, the top 10 news accounts streaming the hearing on YouTube saw 1.7M live streaming video views with Washington Post leading the way boasting an impressive 90k+ concurrent viewers.

It’s clear that online video, whether on streaming TV services or social media, is driving these important national conversations to a wider audience and expanding the scope of how viewers engage with the content.