CNBC’s GOP debate is expected to break the network’s all-time ratings record as preliminary numbers show between 10 and 13 million viewers tuned in Wednesday night.
The estimates come from Nielsen’s 25 metered markets; final numbers will come out on Thursday afternoon.
The final numbers will most likely fall short of the second game of the World Series on Fox, but still represent a large audience for CNBC. The cable business news network has a far smaller built-in audience than its GOP debate predecessors Fox News and CNN, which delivered 24 million and 23 million viewers, respectively.
CNBC sold out its advertising inventory ahead of the debate, charging $250,000 for a 30 second spot.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the network promised advertisers at least 15 million viewers, so they will likely fall short of that guarantee.
CNBC has fielded much criticism following its debate by GOP candidates and pundits for what they deem were unfair questions and bias.
In response, a CNBC spokesperson simply said, “People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions.”