Without the front-runner, Fox News Channel drew 12.5 million total viewers for last night’s GOP debate, the 6th most-watched of the seven GOP debates so far. The 2-hour debate, starting at 9 p.m. ET, drew 3.5 million in the A25-54 demo.
For Fox News, this marks its second-most watched program ever. The first was the August GOP debate which drew nearly twice as many viewers. But it also marked a bizarre first in which the leading candidate was not present for the debate, but, rather, across town at his own campaign rally, an event that was carried on C-SPAN, One America News, CNN, MSNBC and other networks.
CNN aired Trump’s remarks from 9:16-9:31 p.m. ET and returned at 9:34 p.m. when Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee joined Trump on stage. They’d just arrived from participating in the the earlier Fox News GOP debate. CNN’s Don Lemon filled out the 9 p.m. ET hour with the event, discussing it with pundits and covering the media angle, including FNC’s response to Trump’s claims about phone calls he’d received from Fox News earlier in the day. Lemon also continued into the 10 p.m. ET hour when the Trump event wrapped around 10:20 p.m.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow listened in to Trump from 9:16-9:32 p.m. ET, then continued on with her show–the remainder of which focused on Trump the candidate, rather than the event itself. Maddow closed her show with an update on the situation in Flint, Mich. At 10 p.m., Lawrence O’Donnell led with the Trump event which was still ongoing.
Here’s how the numbers broke down for this time period on the 3 leading news networks:
Fox News: 12.20 million viewers / 3.32 million A5-54
CNN: 2.47 million viewers / 809,000 A25-54
MSNBC: 1.36 million viewers / 298,000 A25-54
Fox News: 12.8 million viewers / 3.55 million A25-54
CNN: 1.96 million viewers / 616,000 A25-54
MSNBC: 1.14 million viewers / 260,000 A25-54
Fox News: 12.47 / 3.47 million A25-54
CNN: 1.76 million viewers / 556,000 A25-54
MSNBC: 1.03 million viewers / 234,000 A25-54
With more than 3.8 million viewers watching CNN and MSNBC during Trump’s event, that should give you a sense of how many were not tuned into Fox News’s debate. Still, Fox News won the night, and more than quadrupled the combined average of CNN and MSNBC for the debate time period.
Here’s the 2016 debate ranker, which includes Nielsen viewership data, along with livestreaming information provided by the networks.
|Aug. 6 | GOP||Fox News||24,000,000||7,900,000||2,400000**|
|Sept. 16 | GOP||CNN||22,940,000||6,900,000||4,500,000|
|Oct. 13 | Dem||CNN||15,791,000||4,998,000||4,300,000|
|Oct. 28 | GOP||CNBC||14,000,000||3,900,000||***|
|Nov. 10 | GOP||FBN||13,500,000||3,670,000||2,580,000|
|Nov. 14 | Dem||CBS||8,500,000||2,120,000||1,200,000|
|Dec. 15 | GOP||CNN||18,165,000||5,560,000||3,100,000|
|Dec. 19 | Dem||ABC||7,850,000||1,928,000||***|
|Jan. 14 | GOP||FBN||11,094,000||2,983,000||1,165,000|
|Jan. 17 | Dem||NBC||10,200,000||3,170,000||1,200,000|
|Jan. 28 | GOP||Fox News||12,466,000||3,467,000||708,724|
|Feb. 4 | Dem||MSNBC||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Feb. 6 | GOP||ABC||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Feb. 11 | Dem||PBS||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Feb. 13 | GOP||CBS||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Feb. 25 | GOP||CNN||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Mar. 9 | Dem||Univision||TBD||TBD||TBD|
**Users needed to be an authenticated viewer to watch the livestream.
***ABC & CNBC have not shared their livestream data.