An estimated 70 million people watched at least part of Barbara Walters’ two-hour interview with Monica Lewinsky. Nielsen Media Research gave ABC’s Wednesday night show a 33.9 rating and 47 share in its overnight measurement of 44 large markets, meaning just under half of the working televisions were tuned in to the interview. The Lewinsky interview Wednesday night probably won’t quite match the ratings of the decade’s biggest one-on-one. Oprah Winfrey’s prime-time interview of Michael Jackson in 1993 had a 39.3 rating and 56 share. If the national numbers are similar, as expected, it would mean about 33 million households were watching ABC. The 70 million figure is the number of viewers who watched some or all of it.

  • Surprisingly, the ratings for the interview were strongest at the beginning of the second hour. For many major television events, there’s an initial curiosity factor, and viewership drops off as the program progresses. Philadelphia was tops among the metered markets with a 39.2 rating and 53 share, followed by Boston, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Jacksonville FL seemed the least interested, scoring a 23.6 rating and 33 share. In Washington DC the program had a 33.3 rating and 46 share.
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