Interest continues to run high early this election cycle, with Tuesday’s GOP debate drawing 5.47 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. This makes it the second highest of the season (behind Fox News Channel’s Sept. 22 debate, which drew 6.11 million).
Running from 8 to 10 p.m. ET, the Las Vegas Debate moderated by Anderson Cooper made CNN the top-rated cable network in the time period — and its overall audience also topped broadcaster NBC, which drew about 5.2 million for reality show ”The Biggest Loser.” Usual cable news leader Fox News averaged 2.08 million during the same time frame, and its adults 25-54 delivery (493,000) was less than one-third what CNN drew (1.65 million).
Earlier this fall, MSNBC’s coverage of a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 7 drew 5.4 million, and CNN’s telecast of the Tea Party-sponsored debate on Sept. 12 drew 3.6 million viewers.