Ratings: ‘Sunday Night Football’ Dampens Debate Numbers

NBC tops primetime’s key demo; CBS drowns ABC, Fox in Trump-Clinton coverage

Last Updated: October 10, 2016 @ 9:59 AM

It’s hard to say whether America prefers a good political argument or a football game.

NBC topped Sunday’s key 18-49 demographic with the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game. CBS, however, finished first through primetime (an average from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET) among total viewers. While the Les Moonves-led network got the biggest individual network results from its debate coverage, a CBS NFL overrun in the early evening was the deciding overall-eyeball factor versus NBC.

If one adds in ABC and Fox coverage, however, Trump-Clinton 2 comfortably topped “Sunday Night Football” on a cumulative basis. That’s, of course, not even counting cable news channels and others who simulcasted the debate. Nor does it take streaming numbers into account.

Due to the live events last night, the below numbers are approximate and subject to change. Check back later for final Nielsen tallies for the debate itself.

NBC was first in ratings with a 4.4 rating/13 share in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and second in total viewers with an average of 12.8 million, according to preliminary numbers. The first 60 minutes of “Football Night in America” at 7 p.m. ET averaged a 2.3/8 and 7 million viewers. The 30 minutes of the pregame show beginning at 8 had a 4.8/15 and 13.5 million viewers. The game itself dragged NBC’s primetime averages up.

CBS was second in ratings with a 3.6/11 and in viewers with 14.2 million. A half-hour NFL overrun at 7 p.m. ET scored a 5.7/20 and 18.9 million viewers. The next 90 minutes were credited to “60 Minutes,” which averaged a 3.1/12 and 13.2 million viewers. From 9 to 11, debate coverage earned a 3.6/10 and 13.8 million viewers.

ABC was third in ratings with a 2.0/6 and in viewers with 7.3 million. The 7 o’clock season premiere of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” got a 1.2/4 and 6.1 million viewers. “Once Upon a Time” at 8 p.m. ET received a 1.3/4 and 4.6 million viewers. Debate coverage beginning at 9 averaged a 2.7/7 and 9.2 million viewers over the next two hours.

Fox was fourth in ratings with a 1.5/4 and in viewers with 3.8 million. “The Simpsons” at 7 p.m. ET had a 1.7/6 and 5.5 million viewers. “Bob’s Burgers” at 7:30 got a 1.2/4 and 2.9 million viewers. Another “Simpsons” episode at 8 received a 1.5/5 and 3.4 million viewers. “Son of Zorn” at 8:30 posted a 1.0/3 and 2.4 million viewers. The debate’s 9 o’clock hour landed a 1.9/5 and 4.8 million viewers.

Telemundo and Univision tied for fifth in ratings, both with a 0.6/2. Telemundo was fifth in total viewers with 1.84 million, and Univision was sixth with 1.76 million.

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