By Helen Coster
Jan 23 (Reuters) - About 8.9 million TV viewers watched the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, the first day Democrats laid out their case against the president, marking a significant drop from the roughly 11 million viewers who watched on Tuesday, according to Nielsen ratings data.
The audience includes viewership from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm EST on Walt Disney Co's ABC, AT&T Inc's CNN, ViacomCBS's CBS, Comcast Corp's NBC and MSNBC, and Fox Corp's Fox News. The trial continued until 9:43 p.m. EST that night.
The third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history is unlikely to end with a vote that removes Trump from office, as Republicans who control the Senate have continually voiced support for the president.
However, it is certain to cast a shadow over the November 2020 presidential election, even though ratings for the first two days indicate only a fraction of the more than 130 million Americans expected to cast ballots will have watched the first days of the proceedings.
The ratings indicate that the TV audience shrunk by 19% between Tuesday's session, which was consumed by procedural matters, and Wednesday, when Democrats began making their argument about why Trump should be removed from office.
Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives in December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic political rival, and impeding the inquiry into the matter.
The Republican president denies any wrongdoing.
The TV ratings do not include people who watched live coverage via online streaming or followed it via social media. (Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine in Culver City, California Editing by Andy Sullivan and Bill Berkrot)