The first Republican presidential debate of the campaign season without Donald Trump — which competed to some extent with coverage of Trump’s own rally on other channels — delivered the second-lowest numbers of any of the debates so far. CNN reports that early Nielsen data from metered markets shows the debate on Fox News Channel scored an 8.4 household average. CNN and MSNBC, meanwhile, airing portions of Trump’s fund-raising rally for veterans, combined to deliver about a quarter of that total.
Fox’s program was up from the previous GOP debate, which pulled a household number of 7.4 two weeks ago on the lower-profile Fox Business Network, CNN notes. The latest debate’s results are likely to translate to about 12 million total viewers when the numbers are crunched later today. That’s well down from the record 25 million who turned out for FNC’s coverage of the first GOP debate of the cycle back in August.
CNN notes that the other five Republican debates of the campaign season have delivered household averages between 8.9 and 15.9. Trump pulled out of Thursday night’s debate as part of an ongoing feud with Fox News over Megyn Kelly that prompted a sarcastic statement from Fox, as reported previously.