CNN wanted to break Fox News’s record for biggest debate audience, but their bloated three-hour Republican candidate death march had one million fewer viewers than the first debate.
According to TVNewser, “The second GOP debate, more than an hour longer than the first, was watched by 22.94 million viewers on CNN last night, according to Nielsen Fast National numbers. That’s only 1 million fewer viewers than the first debate on Fox News drew on August 6, which set a record as the most-watched non-sports cable program ever. The CNN debate from 8:15 p.m.-11:15 p.m. ET averaged 6.9 million in the A25-54 demo. Fox’s debate averaged 7.9 million.”
It was still a huge audience, but before the debate CNN was predicting record numbers. What the initial data doesn’t reveal is how many viewers were watching in each hour. I suspect that CNN did a huge first hour and saw the numbers drop in both of the second and third hours.
The Trump circus does bring in casual eyeballs, but Democrats should not be panicking, despite what the Martin O’Malley campaign is trying to whip up, because there is no evidence that big debate audiences over a year before the General Election mean anything.
CNN based all of their coverage around Donald Trump. It is clear that the network bought into a more Trump is the only way that we are going to break the debate audience record mindset.
The novelty of Donald Trump is wearing off. It is likely that the ratings for the next Republican debate on October 28 will register another drop.
The problem is that outside of Trump, the Republican candidates aren’t good television. The other ten candidates on the main stage represented more of the same collection of novices, establishment figures, and no-chancers that have been made up the Republican debate mix over the previous two primary cycles.
CNN failed to break the Fox News record because Fox had the advantage of going first. Donald Trump on a presidential debate stage wasn’t as interesting the second time around, and as the Trump gimmick winds down, Republican debate ratings will continue to drop.