Donald Trump starred in the most-watched program on all of television last week.
Fox News Channel’s GOP debate, of which Trump’s exchange with Fox News Channel star Megyn Kelly has become the continuing storyline, logged a massive crowd of 24 million viewers on Thursday at 9 PM ET, breaking a 19-year ratings record for the cable news network. Trump’s debate debut was, in fact, FNC’s best showing among 18-49 ever.
Ranking No. 1 across the primetime week in overall audience, the debate handily beat NBC’s broadcast of the NFL Hall of Fame Game. That’s saying something, given that it was the most-watched preseason NFL game on any network in five years, with an average of 11 million viewers. Right behind the game, NBC’s America’s Got Talent ranked No. 3 in total viewers for the week in primetime, with 10.2 million.
Trump and the other top-polling GOP hopefuls also scored the biggest crowd of the week in all of TV among news-demo viewers and with 18- to 49-year-olds. The debate logged 8 million news-demo viewers; its closest competitor, that NBC Sunday Hall of Fame NFL game, averaged 5 mil.
In the younger age bracket, the debate scored an impressive 7 million viewers for Fox News Channel. Here too the football game was runner-up, again with an average of 5 million viewers.
In primetime last week, FNC averaged 4.4 million viewers, beating cable runner-up TNT (1.6 million) and third-ranked USA (1.5 million). FNC also finished first in the news demo among cable networks with 1.2 million viewers. TBS was a distant No. 2 with 700K, and USA clocked 640K.
FNC snagged the week’s Top 5 telecasts in basic cable with total viewers. Following the Republican Presidential Primary Debate, The Kelly File clocked 11 million viewers and The O’Reilly Factor 6.6 million. The network’s 5PM ET Kids Table GOP Primary Debate was the fourth-most-watched telecast with 6 million viewers.