Megyn Kelly’s Fox News Channel “voter summit” featuring all remaining GOP presidential candidates not named Donald Trump clocked 2.73 million viewers last night from 9-11 PM. The forum logged 565K news demo viewers. Kelly’s election special beat CNN and MSNBC combined in the two-hour block, both in total viewers and the demo. She also edged out FNC’s flagship show in the news demo: The O’Reilly Factor logged 547K viewers in the 25-54 age bracket. But Bill O’Reilly copped the larger overall crowd last night: a cable-news-topping 3.3 million viewers.
For comparison’s sake: On February 17 and 18, CNN also held a two-night GOP forum, similarly putting questions to each of the GOP hopefuls and letting some voters in the hall put their questions directly to the candidates. Night 1 of CNN’s two-night town hall was similarly Trump-free and clocked a smaller crowd of 2.31M viewers. But, in the news demo, CNN’s Trump-less town hall fared better than Kelly: 758K viewers.
The second night, with the Donald on board, CNN’s town hall bested Kelly’s all around: 2.9M viewers and 780K news demo viewers.
“Before the candidates spread out across those states to deliver their Super Tuesday message to voters, some of them are here tonight to answer questions from Texans,” Kelly said kicking off her two-hour telecast last night. After introducing Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson, Kelly explained to viewers and the audience in the hall: “Businessman and front-runner Donald Trump has a conflicting campaign event tonight in Virginia. We did offer to let him join us by sate – ,” she said, interrupted as the in-hall crowd began to laugh at the “conflicting campaign event” line, given that Trump had cited Kelly when he boycotting FNC’s most recent GOP debate.
Picking up where she’d left off, Kelly continued, ” – by satellite , but his campaign said his schedule would not allow it. They were very polite and cordial,” she added, as more giggling broke out on the hall.