OCTOBER 17, 2020
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s Thursday night town hall surpassed President Trump’s competing event in viewership, according to final numbers from Nielsen Media Research.
Biden’s 90-minute event on ABC News garnered 14.1 million viewers, compared with 13.5 million for Trump’s hour-long town hall, which was aired on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. The figures, released Friday, included those who watched the town halls on television or streamed the event.
The ratings disparity may sting for a notoriously press-obsessed president, but more importantly, indicate more eyeballs were on Biden at a time when Trump desperately needs to shake up the race as polls show him lagging the former vice president by double digits nationally.
Biden failed to offer Trump a major gaffe or viral moment, instead holding a low key, policy-focused town hall with host George Stephanopoulos. Meanwhile, Trump repeatedly clashed with NBC host Savannah Guthrie and raised eyebrows when he declined to condemn the outlandish QAnon conspiracy theory.
Turns out more people last night were interested in watching a leader with a clear plan to get this pandemic under control and Americans back to work, than the same combative, chaotic liar whose incompetence got us into this mess – regardless of how many channels he was on. https://t.co/kvN89pCzAX
– TJ Ducklo (@TDucklo) October 16, 2020
Biden’s stronger viewership may also be indicative of MSNBC’s more liberal audience declining to watch the president.
The latest numbers indicate the town halls garnered significantly higher viewership than past events, including 6.7 million viewers for Biden in an Oct. 5 town hall and 3.8 million for Trump in September on ABC, indicating a possible rise in interest in the election. The dueling town halls also took place on the same night the second head-to-head debate was supposed to air before it was scrapped over disagreements over its virtual format.
Still, the ratings paled in comparison to the 73 million viewers the first debate drew last month.
NBC News faced criticism over its scheduling of the Trump event at the same time as Biden’s town hall, which had been in the books for more than a week, making it difficult for viewers to watch both candidates.
Courtesy/Source: The Hill