Total preliminary ratings for the Big Four show a 44% dip
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ABC topped the preliminary broadcast ratings for Tuesday night’s debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden with 10.3 million viewers, but total preliminary ratings for the Big Four show a sharp decrease in viewers compared to 2016.
For Tuesday’s debate, NBC followed ABC with 7.5 million viewers, while CBS had 5 million viewers and Fox had 4.4 million viewers, making for a combined 27.2 million viewers for the Big Four. But in 2016, NBC had 18.2 million, ABC had 13.5 million, CBS had 12.1 million and Fox broadcast had 5.3 million, totaling just over 49 million viewers for the top four broadcast networks.
Cable ratings for the debate are expected to come in later on Wednesday. But four years ago during the 2016 debate between Hillary Clinton and Trump, Fox News had an average of 11.4 million total viewers, CNN drew in an average of 9.9 million total viewers and MSNBC garnered an average of 4.9 million total viewers. In the key demo, CNN topped the cable networks with 4.5 million average viewers, followed by Fox News with 3.5 million average viewers and MSNBC with over 1.5 million average viewers.
The Tuesday night matchup between the two candidates, filled by frequent interruptions by Trump and bickering, was roundly criticized by several anchors and pundits as one of the most chaotic presidential debates in history.
“That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said on Tuesday night. “The American people lost tonight because that was horrific.”
“I think this was a train wreck tonight. Both candidates, too much interruption, too much back and forth, and that’s just not good for the country,” former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show.
J. Clara Chan
Media and politics reporter • firstname.lastname@example.org • Twitter: @jclarachan