CNN’s GOP insult-hurling derby in Greenville, SC, featuring Carson, Rubio and Cruz, catapulted CNN to a primetime win among cable news networks last night in total viewers and in the news demo.
From 8-9 PM, when Trump went knee-to-knee with moderators Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on a claustrophobic set, MSNBC clocked 1.432 million viewers, which may be Trump’s smallest take-questions-from-TV-news-talent crowd to date of this 2016 slugfest to the White House. Trump logged 341K news demo viewers, which is relevant to MSNBC, but too narrow for Trump, who is targeting the old-enough-to-vote demo, as are all the other candidates.
Meanwhile, CNN’s Anderson Cooper moderated town hall with – in order of appearance, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – clocked 2.057M viewers and 629K viewers in the 25-54 age bracket news networks sell to advertisers. Technically, Cruz did not battle Trump for eyeballs, since the Texas senator did not appear until the second hour of CNN’s town hall, though no doubt he deserves credit for those of his fans who’d slogged through first two hopefuls’ Q&A’s so as not to miss one minute of his rivals’ pants-on-fire cracks about their guy.
But Fox News Channel bagged the biggest crowd against Trump at 8 PM – 2.31 million viewers – and that’s a small-ish crowd for FNC in the hour, but its timeslot star Bill O’Reilly was on vacation.
During CNN’s town hall, 8-11 PM, Cooper clocked 2.307M viewers, with 758K in the news demo. FNC followed with 2.116M viewers and 393K news demo-ers. MSNBC trailed with 1.227M viewers including 281K in the age bracket.
Not to worry, Trump fans. The GOP frontrunner gets another at-bat tonight, as star of CNN South Carolina Town Hall Part Deux, also featuring John Kasich and Jeb Bush. MSNBC not splitting the GOP-viewer vote tonight (it’s moving on to the Dems, with a town hall featuring Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ). And, Trump’s got so much to talk about, Pope Francis today having suggested Trump may not be Christian. In fairness it was after Trump accused the Pope of being a politician.