Wednesday’s Vice Presidential Debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris bucked the downward broadcast ratings trend of previous years.
According to early Nielsen Media Research data, the showdown between the incumbent vice president and democratic hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris, which began live at 9 p.m. ET, averaged 21.3 million viewers across CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC.
Due to the nature of live television, this data set should be considered very preliminary and subject to significant adjustment. We expect to get final numbers, as well as those for the cable channels, later Thursday. The data sets used for this comparison look at ratings from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET in both years, so the averages also include some debate reaction on the networks.
Here’s how the numbers broke down Wednesday: ABC led the way with an average of 7.8 million, NBC averaged 5.3 million, CBS averaged 4.3 million and Fox took in an average of 3.9 million.
The 2016 debate between Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine, by comparison, initially averaged 20.4 million total viewers between NBC, CBS, and ABC. That means the 2020 version was up 4%.
In final Nielsen numbers for the 2016 VP debate, Kaine-Pence averaged roughly 35.6 million viewers across eight networks. NBC averaged 7 million viewers, while CBS finished second among broadcast networks with 6.5 million and ABC was third with 6.1 million. Among the key news demo of adults age 25-54, NBC finished first with 2.95 million viewers while CBS and ABC both fell below the 2 million mark.
Read original story Early Ratings: VP Debate Grows 4% From 2016 Across Big 4 Broadcast Nets At TheWrap