AP, Nielsen

Wednesday’s Presidential Debate Ranks High Among Most-Watched Debates in History

Oct 20, 2016  •  Post A Comment

The third and final debate of this election cycle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which aired on multiple networks Wednesday night, reached 71.6 million total viewers, the AP reports. That means two of the three most-watched presidential debates in history have taken place during the current campaign.

“The debate from Las Vegas, moderated by Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace, exceeded the 66.5 million people who watched the second debate,” the AP reports. “The first time these two candidates met on stage in September, the audience of 84 million set a viewership record, the Nielsen company said.”

Also ranking among the most-watched debates of all time is the 1980 debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, which was seen by 80.6 million people to place No. 2 on the all-time list. The candidates debated only once during that campaign.

“By contrast, both of the debates that Clinton’s husband Bill had while running for re-election in 1996 against Bob Dole reached a little over 36 million people,” the AP notes.

Network by network, Fox News Channel led the way with 11.3 million viewers for Wednesday’s debate, followed by ABC with 11 million, NBC with 10.4 million, CBS with 10.1 million, CNN with 8.7 million, Fox broadcasting with 6.6 million and MSNBC with 5.5 million, according to Nielsen.

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