Fox News Channel announced today it’s teaming with Google to host Thursday’s GOP presidential primary debate, 9-11 PM/ET in Des Moines, Iowa. Moderated by Special Report anchor Bret Baier, The Kelly File anchor Megyn Kelly and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, the debate will incorporate real-time Google trends and data to determine some questions for the candidates. And, some YouTube stars will get to pose questions on topics important to them, via submitted videos, for what will be the final GOP debate before the Iowa Caucus.
Though GOP debate ratings have settled down somewhat, it remains among the most popular new series on television – the most recent one, last week, on Fox Business Network, clocked 11 million viewers of all ages, including 3 million in the news demo, making it the highest-ranked non-sports telecast of the week in all of cable.
Reporters Who Cover Television have high hopes for next week’s fracas – FNC’s contentious, headline-grabbing GOP debate in August – the very first GOP debate in this election cycle averaged 24 million viewers, which made it the best watched non-sports telecast in cable history. Nearly 8 million of those viewers fell into the key 25-54 news age bracket. An out-of-the-gate exchange between moderator Megyn Kelly and Trump, in which she asked him about his past characterizations of women, turned FNC’s primetime star into a household name and led to one of the most discussed candidate comments of the election cycle’s early stages, when Donald Trump subsequently said of Kelly’s question-asking: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her…. wherever.”
Not coincidentally, FNC is returning all of that debate’s moderators – The Kelly File host Kelly, Special Report anchor Bret Baier, and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace – for next week’s skirmish.
Subsequent GOP debates also have set records. The October debate on CNBC, for instance – the one that cost NBC News its hosting gig for the February GOP debate – nabbed an average of 14 million viewers, making it the most watched program in that network’s history. That one included nearly 4M news-demo viewers.