Thursday’s combative Democratic debate from Brooklyn, the biggest platform for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to make their case to New Yorkers ahead of the state’s crucial primary next week, failed to create many ratings fireworks.
According to Nielsen, a combined 5.6 million people watched the debate on either CNN (5.40 million) or local New York City cable television news channel NY1 (171,000), and it drew 1.8 million adults 25-54 (1.71 million for CNN and 89,000 for NY1). In both categories, it rates as the seventh highest (or third lowest) Democratic debate of this election cycle. But among all debates to date, only the MSNBC Democratic debate on Feb. 4 (4.47 million) drew a smaller audience specifically on the cable news network airing it.
CNN ranked No. 1 in cable news last night, averaging 4.145 million total viewers to easily best Fox News Channel (2.396 million) and MSNBC (748,000). And in the key 25-54 news demo, CNN (1.289 million) more than doubled the combined totals of FNC (409,000) and MSNBC (211,000).
Thursday’s debate, which aired live and was moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, was the first held by either party in more than a month. Unlike prior Democratic debates, this one had a rather sharp edge to it, with Clinton and Sanders taking aim at each other over a series of issues, including the Iraq War, Wall Street and qualifications to be president.
CNN again cited strong online interest for its debate, with live streams across all platforms (Web, App, Apple TV and Roku) reaching 1.3 million. CNN Digital also saw 13 million unique visitors on debate day.