An average of 14.5 million viewers watched CNN and Telemundo’s presentation of GOP presidential candidates brawling on stage from Houston, TX, according to Nielsen Fast National data. Among adults 25-54, 4.7 million watched the fracas on the two networks. These combined-network stats make it the fifth-highest among all primary debates on record and the highest-ranking primary debate of 2016.
Last night’s crown outstripped the most recent, much tamer GOP debate that clocked 13.5 million on CBS earlier this month. Before that, ABC’s GOP debate in early February clocked 13.2 million. Biggest debate in history remains the 24M who tuned in for the first debate on Fox News Channel in August. That said, CNN’s most recent GOP debate, in December of ’15, logged 18 million.
On CNN, last night’s debate was viewed by 12.6M viewers and 3.8M in the news demo according to these early stats, putting it just ahead of FNC’s most recent GOP debate, which delivered 12.5M total viewers and 3.5M viewers in the 25-54 age bracket – and did it without Donald Trump on stage. Final stats will be available later today.
Marco Rubio tore into GOP frontrunner Donald Trump at last night’s CNN/Telemundo-hosted debate which, depending on which pundit you believe, is either too late or just in the nick of time, with Super Tuesday just around the corner. Ted Cruz got in his share of Trump whacks too, though much less effectively. And happily, moderator Wolf Blitzer quickly lost control of the evening, giving us Ben Carson’s shout-out “Can someone attack me please?” and other drivers-screaming-at-each-other-after-a-fender-bender moments too numerous to list here, reminding us how much live TV has to offer, including a national social conversation about “fruit salad of life,” and the image of Donald Trump selling watches on a street corner in Times Square.
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