TV Ratings for Vice Presidential Debate Lowest Since 2000

  • About 37 million tuned in for Pence-Kaine on broadcast, cable
  • The 2008 debate between Biden, Palin got 70 million viewers

Mike Pence, 2016 Republican vice presidential nominee, right, and Tim Kaine, 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, are seen on television screens in the media center during the debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, on Oct. 4, 2016.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

About 37 million people watched the vice presidential debate on broadcast and cable channels, making the matchup between Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine the lowest-rated since 2000, according to Nielsen.

Comcast Corp.’s NBC was the most-watched network, drawing more than 7 million viewers for the contest. Here’s how the top broadcast and cable networks fared:

NetworkAudience (in millions)
NBC7.028
CBS6.462
ABC6.149
Fox News6.065
CNN4.140
MSNBC3.122
Source: Nielsen

It was the smallest audience for a vice presidential debate since 2000 -- when 29 million people watched Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman square off. An estimated 51.4 million people watched the 2012 vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Republican Representative Paul Ryan, while about 70 million tuned in for the 2008 encounter between Biden and then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, according to Nielsen.

The first presidential debate between Clinton and Trump on Sept. 26 drew a record political audience of at least 84 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

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