Last night’s Fox Business Republican Primary Debate averaged 9.5 million viewers across all platforms, per network
The second debate of the 2024 Republican primaries attracted an average of 9.5 million spectators, statistics show.
Across three separate channels – Fox Business, Fox News and Univision – the debate’s viewership was down more than 3 million from the first, but it was still the most-watched item on TV.
During the simulcast, 1.82 million people tuned in to Fox Business for the event, while approximately 6.69 million people watched on sister channel Fox News. Another 813,000 viewers watched it on Spanish-language Univision, while another 200,000 viewers streamed it on Fox Nation.
On Fox Business – the event’s official sponsor – the debate delivered the network’s highest-rated broadcast since 2016, despite the notable absence of Donald Trump.
That said, the former president – and current front-runner – also missed the first one, which brought in a much more robust 12.8 million after it aired last month, also on Fox at the time.
The second debate of the 2024 Republican primaries attracted an average of 9.5 million viewers – more than 3 million fewer than last month’s.
Across three separate channels, the debate’s viewership was down from the first, but still the most watched program on TV
That said, a drop from the first debate to the second is far from anomalous, as historical records show — given the inherent intrigue of an initial showdown between the candidates.
A total of seven participated this time, after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who qualified for the first debate, failed to make the final list after falling short of the necessary vote tallies.
At left on Wednesday were former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Tim Scott.
The seven sparred for a total of two hours on the stage of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, before a California audience that at times responded to the war of words with both confusion and silence.
Jokes — sans Christie’s that Trump should be known as “Donald Duck” — often fell flat, and aggressive displays from figures like Haley and pharmaceutical billionaire Ramaswamy seemed to have potential to divide Republican voters.
Also striking was how uncomfortable the candidates felt discussing current issues like abortion – a topic that took more than 100 minutes to come up.
Polarizing topics such as gender identity and ‘transgenderism’, as Ramaswamy called it, were also discussed after many hailed the 38-year-old newcomer as the surprise winner of last month’s debate.
He denounced the phenomenon, ‘especially in children, as a psychological disorder.’
The debate’s viewership was down by more than 3 million from the first debate, held in Milwaukee on August 23, but it was still the most-watched program on TV
Such comments managed to generate somewhat respectable ratings, albeit on a night when the major broadcasters largely stuck to game shows and reality TV.
Still, such a decision shows the average American viewer’s growing interest in major live political events, especially after the circus of the 2016 campaign, which kicked off Trump’s meteoric rise to the top of the party.
Eight years later, he’s still at the top, and his absence was felt both on stage and in the Nielsen ratings on Wednesday.
Compared to other political TV showdowns, Trump’s first presidential debate with Hilary Clinton in 2016 drew 84 million U.S. TV viewers, while his clash with Biden during the last election cycle drew an audience of 73 million viewers.
The numbers are also down significantly from the average 15.5 million across the 12 primary debates in 2016, when Trump took television by storm with a decidedly atypical debate style.
Noting his own absence last month, Trump claimed at the time that the first debate received low ratings — though given its absence and the fact that it took place during a primary, that figure was actually somewhat on the right side.
Be that as it may, Trump’s first presidential debate in August 2015 drew a historic 24 million viewers — albeit at a time when the eventual president was still considered a novelty and amid a much more contentious race.