When frontrunner Donald Trump decided to pull out of last night’s GOP debate, many — including the candidate himself — predicted his absence would mean a tank in viewership.
Trump himself predicted this:
“The ‘debate’ tonight will be a total disaster — low ratings with advertisers and advertising rates dropping like a rock,” he wrote.
And, as we reported, at least one poll of Fox viewers supported Trump’s prediction — showing 83 percent said they would not watch the debate without Trump. Trump’s decision to host a competing alternate event, airing on CNN and other more liberal cable networks, seemed almost certain to make this prediction a reality.
So some people might be shocked to see the ratings that are emerging, as we speak, from last night — which show that the Fox debate had four times the viewership of Trump’s competing event as shown on CNN and MSNBC. Last night’s debate also had higher ratings than the last GOP debate, which included Trump.
Via CNN Money:
Donald Trump counter-programmed Thursday’s GOP primary debate on Fox with his own prime time event. So whose show scored a bigger audience?
Answer: Fox’s debate. But it was the second lowest rated debate of the season. So Trump is certain to take credit for hurting the channel’s total viewership.
Fox News Channel’s Trump-less debate had an 8.4 household rating, according to early Nielsen data from so-called metered markets.
This means 8.4% of American metered market homes with TV sets were watching the face-off.
By comparison, two of the cable channels that showed parts of Trump’s event, CNN and MSNBC, had about a quarter of Fox’s audience combined.
So Trump’s rivals clearly came out ahead in the raw ratings.
The most recent GOP debate, televised two weeks ago on the harder-to-find Fox Business Network, had a household rating of 7.4.
So Thursday’s debate was bigger — but not by much. The other five GOP debates of the cycle have had household ratings ranging from 8.9 to 15.9.
That’s why Trump can claim victory. (His campaign had no immediate comment about the ratings on Friday.)
Actual viewership numbers will be available later in the day on Friday. Fox News likely had 11 million to 13 million viewers for the debate.
OK, so there you have it; no doubt many inquiring minds want to know. We’ll have to wait to see actual viewership numbers — and whether Trump weighs in with his own perspective.
Those who did tune in to last night’s Fox debate were treated to a substantive, policy-focused debate that was relatively light on personal attacks — which, frankly, is what the debates should be about when we’re trying to assess the best leader for our nation.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]