A sizable audience is expected for tonight’s heavily promoted two-hour Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner on ABC’s “20/20,” but the ratings are unlikely to approach those for other high-profile sitdowns.
Gone are the days when “get” interviews could attract 50 million or more, as when Barbara Walters’ 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky drew a whopping 74 million viewers and Sawyer’s 1995 interview with Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley lured 60 million.
And even the tune-in achieved nearly 14 years ago with something like Connie Chung’s ABC interview with former Representative Gary A. Condit of California about missing Washington intern Chandra Levy will be hard to approach. That hourlong chat drew 23.7 million viewers.
The most recent high-profile interview on “20/20” came nearly a year ago with the female friend of disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. That Friday “20/20” interview with Barbara Walters drew about 7.4 million. But that was a rather hastily assembled interview, and V. Stiviano was anything but a household name.
Most industry insiders give ABC a pretty good chance at doubling its Friday 9-11 p.m. average, which in 2015 has been about 6.5 million in “live plus same-day” ratings for the combo of “Shark Tank” and “20/20.” The newsmag itself has been averaging about 5.7 million viewers in the 10 o’clock hour, and Friday’s most-watched series (CBS’ “Blue Bloods”) usually approaches 12 million.
The high-end range for most predictions about tonight’s viewership has been around 16 million-18 million.
“Bruce Jenner: The Interview” would probably draw more viewers on a night other than lightly watched Friday, and as a result this might be the first example of a highly promoted primetime interview — generally seen as must-watch that night — that will fare reasonably well in DVR playback in the days ahead.