Diane Sawyer’s conversation with Olympic gold-medal winner Bruce Jenner, who has now publicly come out as a transgender woman, was watched by about 16.9 million viewers on Friday night.
Sawyer described the special two-hour edition of ABC’s newsmagazine “20/20”—called “Bruce Jenner: The Interview”—as “the last TV interview he’ll do as Bruce.” During the broadcast, Jenner openly discussed nearly every aspect of his issues with gender identity, including his family members’ reactions to his decision to transition and live the rest of his life as a woman.
According to figures from Nielsen, among viewers in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age group, the interview scored a 5.2 rating—about four times its typical performance on a Friday night, when broadcast network TV ratings are typically low.
A large audience was expected, thanks to Jenner’s cross-generational fame. He has been in the public eye since becoming an Olympic decathlon winner in 1976. Since its debut in 2007, he has been part of the wildly popular Kardashian family reality-TV franchise.
It was also revealed during the ABC broadcast that a docu-series that chronicles Jenner's life as a transgender woman will air on E! starting July 26.
Jenner immediately trended across social media as the broadcast commenced, with running commentary of the historic broadcast, most of it positive.
For the Record, 9:37 a.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to Jenner's announcement as being in the process of becoming a transgender woman. He is a transgender woman and is in the process of transitioning.