MSNBC’s Atlanta Debate Draws 6.5 Million Viewers, the Lowest of Any Debate in 2019 Cycle

Wednesday’s Dem debate drops 31% in key demo from CNN’s last month

Democractic Debate
Photo credit: Getty Images

Ten Democratic candidates appeared on stage in Atlanta, Georgia, for the fifth Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday evening, which garnered 6.506 million overall viewers, according to early Nielsen data.

It was the least-watched of seven nights of Democratic candidates debating so far this year, but not the least-watched on MSNBC, which previously partnered with other channels for simulcasts that delivered higher numbers.

Of the 6.5 million viewers — who tuned in to see former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, billionaire Tom Steyer, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang — 1.673 million were in the advertiser-coveted age range of 25-54. Further, 550,000 were between 18-34.

MSNBC’s Wednesday debate was down -31% in the key 25-54 demo and -24% in total viewers from the previous debate, hosted by CNN.

CNN drew 8.3 million viewers in October for 2019’s fourth Democratic debate. Until last night, that was the lowest tally thus far in the race leading up to the 2020 presidential election. To be fair to the cable news channel, two of the other three rounds were presented at least partially on broadcast television, which is available in many more homes than cable is.

Wednesday’s debate was only on MSNBC and did not simultaneously air on NBC’s broadcast channel.

MSNBC’s previous debate, held over two nights in Miami in June, brought in 18.1 million viewers overall on its second night and 15.268 million on its first, but only with support from NBC and Telemundo. On MSNBC itself, the first night’s broadcast, June 26, fared poorer than Wednesday’s: Only 5.873 million tuned into MSNBC that evening. The second night, 6.681 million turned on the cable channel to see its collaborative debate effort with NBC and Telemundo.