Trump-Clinton Debate Falls Short of Record First Audience

  • About 66 million tuned in to watch second presidential debate
  • Ratings may have been hurt by NFL football game, hurricane

The second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton drew more than 66 million TV viewers across cable and broadcast networks, and will likely fall well short of the historic mark set by their first face-off two weeks ago.

CBS attracted the largest audience among broadcast and cable networks with 16.5 million viewers. ABC came in second among broadcasters with 11.5 million, while Fox finished third with 5.6 million. NBC aired Sunday Night Football instead of the debate. PBS came in at 2.8 million, while the Spanish language-network Univision reported about 2.4 million viewers.

Among cable outlets, CNN drew 11.2 million viewers, Fox News attracted 9.9 million and MSNBC pulled in 5.5 million viewers, according to statements from Fox and CNN citing Nielsen data. Fox Business Network had 564,000 total viewers and CNBC had 391,000. Final numbers from all the networks will be released later Monday.

More than 84 million people watched the first Clinton-Trump debate on Sept. 26, the biggest debate audience since the 1980 contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.


Viewers, in millions

Fox News9.9
Source: Fox, citing Nielsen data

Sunday’s event competed for attention with the NFL matchup between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers on Comcast Corp.’s NBC. The ratings may also have been hurt by Hurricane Matthew, which forced widespread evacuations this weekend across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The debate, moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Anderson Cooper of CNN, combined charges about past sexual scandals with sober policy discussion. It came after a weekend of Republican desertions sparked by the release of a 2005 video of Trump making lewd remarks about women.

The third and final presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

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