Live coverage of the prosecution’s opening statement in the O.J. Simpson trial Tuesday sent local TV ratings soaring more than 30% above average.
Figures released Wednesday by th A.C. Nielsen Co. showed that about 1.3 million of the Los Angeles market’s 4.9 million homes viewed the day’s proceedings on the six local broadcast stations that preempted regular programming to televise the opening arguments.
Several thousand more homes probably were tuned to that same coverage on CNN, E! Entertainment and Court TV, but local cable ratings were not available.
Research directors at local stations noted that the figure of 1.3 million households does not fully indicate the total number of people in the area who watched the trial, because television viewing in offices, hotels, restaurants, airports, stores and other public places or businesses is not monitored by Nielsen. It is impossible to quantify how many people were watching in those places, they said.
Nationally, CNN’s ratings for the live trial broadcast Tuesday skyrocketed to more than 700% of its usual daytime average. For a portion of Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Clark’s statement, 4 million homes nationwide were tuned to CNN.
Nielsen would not release the national daytime ratings for ABC, CBS and NBC, which also broadcast the trial proceedings Tuesday. Network daytime ratings are generally unavailable until the following week.
As good as the Simpson trial’s ratings were for a daytime program, however, President Clinton did better locally with his State of the Union address Tuesday night--albeit blessed with a much better time slot. About 2.4 million area homes tuned in for the speech, which began at 6 p.m.--when more people are home and available to sit in front of their TVs--on the local broadcast outlets, with many more watching on CNN and C-SPAN.