CNBC said its Wednesday-night telecast of a debate among Republican candidates for U.S. President lured an average of 14 million viewers, making it the most-watched broadcast on the NBCUniversal-owned cable outlet in its history.
CNBC’s audience for the telecast was significantly lower than the crowds lured by Fox News Channel and CNN for similar events. A Republican debate broadcast in August by Fox News attracted an average of 24 million viewers, while a Republican debate broadcast in September by CNN won an average of 23.1 million viewers.
For CNBC, however, the numbers were meaningful. The network said its broadcast of the debate was the most-watched night in network history in all key demos. The network snared an average of 3.9 million adults between 25 and 54 and an average of 3.4 million adults between 18 and 49 for its debate coverage.
The telecast, held at the Coors Events Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and moderated by Becky Quick, Carl Quintanilla and John Harwood, was not without controversy. Several Republican candidates expressed some outrage at some of the questions that were asked.
Among the questions that were ridiculed was one asked about regulation of fantasy football. Other queries were derided as personal attacks. Harwood,for example, asked Donald Trump if he was running a “comic book version” of a campaign for U.S. President. Senator Marco Rubio was asked if he ought to resign after a Florida newspaper took umbrage at his attendance record. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was asked if he thought Trump had the moral authority that being President requires.
“People who want to be President of the United States should be able to answer tough questions,” the network said in a statement.