Tuesday’s Democratic Debate from Detroit drew 8.7 million viewers on CNN and Spanish-language offering CNN en Espanol. That tally was way less than the 15.3 million total viewers first round pulled combined on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo last month. Of course, this one did not have a broadcast partner. It was also the second debate of the primary season and not the first.
June’s debate across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo earned 4.3 million viewers in the key adults 25-54 demographic. Tuesday’s received 2.5 million viewers in that favorite demo for those wishing to advertise on news programming.
CNN’s live stream of the debate had 2.8 million starts last night, the cable news channel said in a Wednesday morning press release.
Here’s how the June debate broke down across its three NBCUniversal-owned simulcasting channels: NBC had 8.675 million viewers, Telemundo got 720,000 viewers, and MSNBC posted 5.873 million viewers. Though viewers will hunt for what they consider appointment viewing, broadcast TV reaches more households than cable.
CNN’s October 2015 Democratic Debate, the best and most recent comparison we have for the Turner cable news channel vs. itself, scored 15 million total viewers. Of those, 4.7 million viewers were ages 25-54. CNN’s 2015 Republican debate, which took place one month earlier, earned a whopping 22.8 million viewers with 7 million in the demo. That one had the Trump factor.
Trump had a looming presence in Tuesday’s debate. According to Twitter data, the president was the most-tweeted-about politician Tuesday night. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who squared off center-stage, placed second and third, respectively. Also notable were author Marianne Williamson, who spoke openly about reparations for descendants of slaves and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who captured viewers’ attention with a mysterious smudge on his forehead.
The second round of CNN’s Democratic primary debates takes place tonight. Frontrunner Joe Biden will square off with Senator Kamala Harris as well as Sens. Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.