The Derek Chauvin trial is the most-watched case in more than a decade. The case gripped the attention of the nation after a bystander shared a video of George Floyd’s death while in the custody of police officer Derek Chauvin. With so many similar cases across the country, television stations are tuned into the strong interest from their audiences. Media outlets in Minneapolis – St. Paul and national network news are carrying gavel-to-gavel coverage on live television and through streaming services. Early results show audiences are watching in record numbers. While this court proceeding is highly anticipated, it’s like nothing audiences have ever seen before.
First, the Derek Chauvin trial is happening during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that has necessitated several accommodations to prevent the spread of an extremely contagious virus. This courtroom is only the judge, jury, attorneys, and two pool journalists. No family members, friends, or supporters are seen on screen. Audiences usually watch for the reactions of those in court, particularly the defendant. But throughout this trial, the expressions of Derek Chauvin are largely unseen behind his mask.
Second, the trial offers an unprecedented view into criminal court proceedings via live streams broadcast through several networks and affiliates. Audiences have new access on-the-go with network streaming services right to their device. So no need to sit home and watch glued to your television like they have for other famous cases.
Third, analysis by news channels and legal commentators focuses more on the ins and outs of the law. Audiences used to the opinions of cable news are finding neutral, thoughtful and expert analysis as the case hits milestones and progresses towards a verdict.
How Daytime TV Has Shifted During the Derek Chauvin Trial
What also makes this coverage unique is that it consists of largely uninterrupted court proceedings, with legal analysts and news anchors only providing commentary during downtime in the trial, such as when the court adjourns for a break or at the end of the day.
This is quite different from the hard and fast commentary that audiences are used to while watching sports games, daytime talk shows, and other, more fast-paced cable news content. And yet, the live view into the trial of Derek Chauvin has been highly successful in keeping the public’s attention. It’s a rare moment in time that audiences are witness to a trial that reflects the country’s current social and political climate so closely.
Our own Joe Tamburino has been a frequent legal analyst on the Derek Chauvin trial earning national attention from the New York Times, CBS Nightly News and in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area with CBSN Minnesota (WCCO). Joe will continue to offer insight as the trial comes to a close.