Nielsen: Final Trump-Biden debate showdown falls flat with viewers compared to the first

Alexandra Canal
·Producer
·2 min read

Thursday’s battle royale between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden didn’t live up to the hype in terms of ratings.

According to early broadcast data from Nielsen, the final presidential debate drew in 21.4 million viewers across ABC (DIS), CBS (VIAC) and NBC (CMCSA) on Thursday night and snagged a 4.8 rating among adults 18-49 — but that’s still down 21% from the first time Trump and the former Vice President went head to head in late September.

Coronavirus, immigration and health care were high-priority topics, as the ‘muted mic’ seemed to have led to a calmer, more substantial debate night compared to the first one.

The first presidential debate on September 29 reached over 27 million viewers across those three major networks, including Fox (which was not included this time around due to Thursday night football). However, even if you exclude Fox from last night’s data, viewership was still down 6%.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3.

Final and more comprehensive Nielsen figures will be released later Friday, which should have a higher total due to that fact that more channels will be counted.

The finalized total for the first debate was 73.1 million.

For context, the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton back in 2016 was the most-watched presidential debate of all time — totaling a whopping 84 million viewers.

At the moment, Joe Biden continues to lead President Trump in multiple national polls — in addition to predictive markets where investors place bets on the White House contenders.

According to betting giant Smarkets, political bettors see Biden as the clear winner. The former vice president’s odds surged to 67% following the debate, compared to President Trump’s 33%.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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