ABC drew its largest non-sports audience on a Saturday in more than 14 years for its debate among Republican presidential contenders. Variety reports that the debate, which featured the return of Donald Trump after he boycotted the recent Fox News Channel debate, delivered 13.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen estimates.
That’s up from 11.09 million for the Jan. 14 debate on Fox Business Network and 12.47 million for the Jan. 28 Fox News Channel debate, when Trump held his own rival event. Saturday’s GOP debate had the largest audience of any political event for either party so far in 2016, the report notes.
“The ABC Republican debate special delivered the network’s largest audience on a Saturday since September 2001. In January 2012, a GOP debate on the Alphabet drew 6.27 million viewers,” Variety notes.
Even so, Saturday’s debate didn’t approach the numbers from last fall, when the Trump phenomenon was just gaining momentum. Early in the debate season, FNC’s GOP debate pulled 24 million viewers, and a subsequent Republican debate on CNN topped 23 million.