CNN’s “Iowa Democratic Candidates Town Hall” was the most watched non-debate primary event on cable news ever. According to Nielsen, the Iowa Town Hall averaged 3.2 million total viewers, which put CNN atop the cable news ratings on Monday night.
To be fair, debates average significantly more viewers and have accounted for some of the most-watched non-sporting events in cable history. Last September’s GOP debate on CNN averaged a network-record 22.9 million viewers, dwarfing the town hall’s title of most-watched non-debate event.
But anytime CNN prevails in primetime is a big win for the network. Hosted by Chris Cuomo, the town hall also won the key 25-54 demo and beat rivals Fox News and MSNBC combined in primetime.
CNN’s Town Hall beat MSNBC’s “First in the South Democratic Presidential Forum” from last November, double its returns in the key demo with 944,000 viewers compared to 416,000 for the MSNBC event.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews doesn’t think anyone cares about tomorrow’s GOP debate on Fox News now that Donald Trump has pulled out. The “Hardball” host even asked, “Who is going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?”
Fox News clearly expects more than 3.2 million viewers for its debate, with or without Trump, considering its last one averaged well over 20 million viewers. But CNN proved you don’t need The Donald to win the night among cable news networks.