UPDATE with final Nielsen stats: Nielsen confirms 37.1M viewers watched Tuesday’s Veep debate across ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, CNN, FBN, FNC, and MSNBC. Of that crowd nearly 36M are voting age, with the lion’s share aged 55 years and older – just over 22M.
The average audience for the debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence is about 14.3M viewers shy of the most recent VP debate, in 2012. In its tally sent out this afternoon, Nielsen did not include C-Span viewing.
Previous 1:20 PM: PBS reports it contributed another 1.47 million viewers to the audience for last night’s Veep debate between Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence and Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine. That brings the total viewer tally to nearly 37.1M viewers.
Previous, 12:01 PM: Note to Tim Kaine and Mike Pence: You’re no Sarah Palin.
Ratings for eight major TV networks covering their VP debate last night suggest under 40M viewers tuned in to last night’s cross-talk act between the two Veep candidates. About 35.6M watched across the eight major networks, including the Big Four broadcasters and cable nets CNN, FNC, MSNBC and FBN. The stats to not include viewing on PBS, C-Span, or via livestream.
Though interest in this election cycle has churned up historic ratings for debates featuring POTUS hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – most recently, the 84M who tuned in to their first debate against each other – that did not translate to record ratings for this cycle’s one and only Veep face-off, last night.
Palin remains the reigning queen of Veep debate ratings. She’s credited with reeling in most of the 70M who’d tuned in to her ’08 face-off with Joe Biden. Last night’s debate also was no match for the previous most recent Veep debate, in ‘12, between Biden and Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, which nabbed 51M viewers. That debate also was carried on Spanish language networks, Univision and Telemundo, while last night’s debate was not. Even the Dick Cheney-John Edwards match scored a bigger crowd in 2004: 44M viewers.
You have to go back to the ’00 election cycle to find a VP skirmish of interest to so few viewers. Cheney was pitted against Joe Lieberman and 29M viewers tuned in.
About 12M of last night’s debate viewers fell into the 25-54 age bracket – the currency of TV news ad sales.
NBC clocked the biggest crowd of all in both metrics: 7.028M total viewers, and about 3M in the new demo.
In total viewers, NBC was followed by CBS’s 6.462M, and ABC’s 6.149M. Fox broadcast network was a lap behind the other broadcasters, with an average audience of 2.208M viewers.
Meanwhile, Fox News Channel amassed the largest overall audience among the cable news networks, while CNN dominated in the news demo.
In total viewers, FNC nabbed 6.083M, ahead of CNN’s 4.167M, MSNBC’s 3.125M, and FBN’s 392K.
But CNN’s 1.68M news-demo tally dominated cable. FNC followed with 1.506M, ahead of MSNBC’s 908K and FBN’s 84K.
Previous: Last night’s vice presidential debate between Dem’s Tim Kaine and GOP’s Mike Pence, aka “loaf of white bread getting pistol whipped by a jar of mayonnaise” (Stephen Colbert) seems on track to score fewer viewers than Veep smackdowns in recent past. Extremely early stats show the four broadcast networks down a tick from most recent Veep debate, in ‘12, between Veep Joe Biden and Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, which clocked 51M viewers.
Such early tea-leaf reading may not be reliable, since it does not include growing cable news viewing, but it’s looking unlikely last night’s debate will in any way challenge ’08’s record-breaking face-off between Biden and Sarah Palin, with its 70M viewers.
More likely the Kaine/Pence debate will hover around Dick Cheney/John Edwards numbers (44M) of ’04.
In the early metered market numbers, NBC led among broadcasters with a 4.9 household ratings, followed by ABC’s 4.5, CBS’s 4.2 and Fox broadcast network’s 1.5.