15.3 Million Watch Debate on CNN; Most Ever for Democratic Debate

By Chris Ariens Comment

15.3 million viewers watched the first democratic presidential debate of the 2016 cycle on CNN, the highest ever for a Democratic debate. The face-off averaged 4.8 million in the A25-54 demo.

Viewership for the 5-way democratic race drew 9 million fewer viewers than the first two GOP debates, but still much higher than many had expected. The first debate on Fox News drew 24 million viewers. The second debate on CNN was watched by 22.9 million.

The debate was promoted to begin at 8:30 p.m. ET, but, following commercial breaks, a highly-produced open, and candidate introductions, the first question didn’t come until just before 9 p.m. The debate is now the 6th most-watched non-sports cable program ever.

The first democratic debate of the 2008 cycle, the last time there was an open primary, was more than four months earlier, on June 3, 2007 and was watched by 2.78 million viewers on CNN. The most-watched debate of that cycle was on April 16, 2008 when 10.69 million watched on ABC.

Debate Network Total Viewers A25-54
Aug. 6 | GOP Fox News 24,000,000 7,900,000
Sept. 16 | GOP CNN 22,940,000 6,900,000
Oct. 13 | Dem CNN 15,791,000 4,998,000
Oct. 28 | GOP CNBC TBD TBD
Nov. 10 | GOP FBN TBD TBD
Nov. 14 | Dem CBS TBD TBD
Dec. 15 | GOP CNN TBD TBD
Dec. 19 | Dem ABC TBD TBD
Jan. 17 | Dem NBC TBD TBD
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