Donald Trump may have been conspicuously absent, but Thursday night’s Republican debate on Fox News Channel nevertheless scored a 8.4 rating and 12.5 million viewers, according to early numbers from Nielsen. That’s higher than the returns for the last Republican debate, Jan. 14 on sister net Fox Business Network, and marks the No. 2 telecast in FNC history.
Meanwhile, all the other cable news networks were covering Trump’s competing event in Iowa, during which Trump boasted he raised $5 million for veteran’s charities. Those other cable news networks, neither of which blanketed the time period with the event, averaged a respective 1.76 million viewers (CNN) and 1.02 million viewers (MSNBC) between 9 and 11 p.m. ET.
In the news demo of adults 25-54, FNC averaged 3.5 million viewers.
Fox News Channel still holds the record for debate ratings; 24 million tuned in to watch the first debate last August, after which Trump began targeting the network and anchor Megyn Kelly on social media and in myriad TV interviews.
All over America, Trumpsters will be saying, “Yeah, but he was at the one debate that had higher ratings!”
Bless their hearts.
It is difficult to argue that Trump was THE draw in that first debate. Curiosity probably had more to do with the monster numbers in that one than anything. There were ten candidates on stage, and a lot of people I know tuned in just to see how that would be managed. It was a spectacle and the spectacle was what brought the crowds, as spectacles often do.
The only thing that’s certain after all of the Trump vs. FNC ratings kabuki is that Megyn Kelly was the centerpiece of the two highest ratings grabs in the network’s history and Donny’s alleged sabotage ploy was a monumental fail, if that really was his aim.
Again, I think it’s all been a show. There was no way either party in this “feud” was going to be hurt with their respective constituencies. People spent the two days leading up to the debate talking about both Trump AND Fox News, so it was a win for both of them. FNC was essentially getting hours of free ad time on CNN Wednesday and Thursday.
Now that the dust has settled, FNC has a ratings win and Trump seems even more like a fighter to his
delirious cult supporters.
Those phone calls between Trump and the network we heard were happening yesterday? It’s a good bet both sides were laughing the whole time.