Ratings: MSNBC Democratic Debate Draws 4.5 Million Viewers — Lowest This Cycle

MSNBC Democratic Debate Draws 4.5 Million
Courtesy of NBC

The first head-to-head showdown of Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders didn’t make much of a ratings impact on Thursday, as MSNBC’s two-hour event — a late addition to the schedule — racked up the lowest numbers for any debate this election cycle.

According to preliminary Nielsen estimates, Thursday’s debate from New Hampshire averaged roughly 4.5 million viewers from 9 to 11 p.m. ET, including about 1.2 million viewers in the key news demo of adults 25-54. The most recent Democratic debate prior to last night, Jan. 17 on NBC, averaged 10.16 million viewers and 3.2 million adults 25-54, and the previous low for the Dems came with a Saturday night debate on ABC shortly before Christmas (8.03 million overall, 1.97 million adults 25-54).

MSNBC was the clear ratings leader among the cable news networks from 9 to 11 p.m., though it lagged behind each of the major broadcast networks. Fox News was second among the cable newsies (2.0 million viewers, including 399,000 adults 25-54) and CNN a distant third (712,000 viewers, including 210,000 adults 25-54), according to the Nielsen prelims.

Last night’s event, moderated by Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, was a late arrival on the debate schedule and only came together just over a week ago. It also wasn’t officially sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee until Tuesday of this week when both Clinton and Sanders agreed to three other debates, including one in Flint, Michigan on March 6.

The first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential primary season drew a whopping 24 million viewers last August on Fox News Channel — a cable record for a non-sports program — and viewership remained very high a month later when more than 23 million watched the second GOP gathering on CNN. Subsequent debates

On the Democratic side, ratings peaked with the first debate in October on CNN. That debate from Las Vegas drew 15.79 million viewers, including about 5 million in the demo.

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  1. David H. says:

    we did not know the date or time of the democratic debates. There are many lower income people that don’t have satellite or cable. The republicans also show there debate on ABC. I think the channels are called Broadcast channels.

  2. Nanny Mo says:

    Yikes, that means the viewers have already made their minds up and so don’t need to watch anymore. I know I have.

  3. John Royce says:

    A bunch of dirty old Dinosaurs trying to eat each other. Sorry, I’ve seen “Jurassic Park” already. Both of them belong as black goo in the La Brea tar pits.

  4. G John says:

    If a debate happens in the woods and no one is there to see it, did it really happen?

  5. heath says:

    4.5 million viewers is record ratings for MSNBC. Usually…lockup on the weekends gets the highest

  6. Shame so few tuned in. Really good debate.

  7. pilgrim says:

    that was the point,

  8. bill burton says:

    Wonder what would have happened if FNC hosted the dem debate?

  9. savant says:

    And no fact checking by our media…..I guess they only fact check the Republicans…

  10. Bob Price says:

    Tired of endless debates on who is the most progressive. MSNBC trying to get something snappy instead of the issues, national security, taxes, healthcare, immigration, etc. All we heard were political platitudes with no substance. The only thing we learned is they both believe they are best.

  11. Jamie says:

    Who wants to watch two old Socialists battle it out for the “Worst Socialist” in America?

    All I hear when there flapping their gums is…”I’ll give away more free crap than you will!” “No you won’t, I’m the biggest giver of free shit in history!”

    Enough already!

  12. The primary process is too drawn out. It lasts too long. People are already tired of it. God help you if you live in a swing state, it’s Groundhog’s Day and you have 9 more months of this.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I thought it was a great debate! Maybe MSNBC should have done more to advertise it, since it was so last minute. People might have been confused by the New Hampshire town hall the night before on CNN. Maddow and Todd were awesome. They need to be recruited for major debates during the general election too.

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