Fox News GOP Debate Crushes Trump Event in Ratings

Network sees declines from previous debates, but still outperforms the Republican frontrunner’s veterans-group benefit

Donald Trump

In the battle between Donald Trump and Fox News, the network just scored a big point in the ratings department.

Fox News’ broadcast of the Republican presidential debate crushed Donald Trump’s campaign rally in viewership from 9:15 to 10:15 p.m., when CNN and MSNBC picked up coverage of the Trump event. During that hour, Fox News averaged 12.8 million total viewers. CNN averaged 2 million. MSNBC averaged 1.1 million.

In the key 25-54 demographic, Fox News averaged 3.5 million against Trump, while CNN averaged 616,000 and MSNBC averaged 260,000.

Fox News’ debate coverage drew 12.5 million total viewers, according to Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers. That’s down significantly from the 24 million total viewers that the network’s previous GOP debate drew last August. But the Thursday night debate did outperform the one held on Fox Business two weeks ago, which drew 11 million total viewers.

In the 25-54 demo, the total debate coverage averaged 3.5 million.

Trump bowed out of Thursday night’s forensic following a public war of words with Fox News and its CEO Roger Ailes. Trump had threatened for days that he may not show up at the debate unless Megyn Kelly — the moderator who questioned Trump regarding his derogatory comments about women at last August’s debate — be removed.

Trump announced Tuesday that he would not participate in the event after Fox News released a statement, later revealed to have come directly from Ailes, mocking Trump for being afraid of Kelly. Trump instead attended a veterans-group benefit organized by his campaign.