Nearly Two-Thirds of L.A. Homes Watched Hearing, Ratings Show


An average of 61% of the homes watching television in the Los Angeles area--or a total of 1.2 million households--tuned in to the first day of O.J. Simpson’s preliminary hearing Thursday, according to A.C. Nielsen Co. figures released Friday.

That number rises even higher when taking into account such outlets as Cable News Network and Court TV. Cable TV ratings were not available on a local basis for either network.

For the entire Los Angeles market including cable TV, daytime viewing from 8 a.m., when local news coverage began, to 5 p.m., shortly after the Simpson hearing concluded, was up about 10% from the week before.


The Big Three networks, which carried the hearing live to the rest of the country, had a 24% increase in their combined ratings, according to preliminary Nielsen reports from 31 markets. The trade publication Electronic Media estimated that 20% to 25% of all U.S. homes tuned in to the networks’ coverage.

Until national numbers are released next week, there is no way to determine the total number of people who saw the hearing, because ratings measure TV households and not individual viewers. Because the hearing took place during a workday, the ratings would not take into account large groups of office workers gathered around TV sets.

KCBS-TV Channel 2 led all local coverage with a 5.1 rating during the live portion of the hearing, followed closely by KNBC-TV Channel 4 with a 5 rating and KABC-TV Channel 7 with 4.7. (Each ratings point represents 50,064 homes). The ratings peaked from 11 a.m. to noon, right before the hearing broke for lunch, and then again during the last hour, when key witnesses finally testified.

CNN reported that a national average of 2.3 million households saw its live courtroom coverage, which is very high for a basic cable channel. CNN’s national rating for the entire day was up 200% from last month’s average.