VP Debate TV Ratings: Fox News Tops In Total Viewers, ABC Leads In Key Demographics

Fox News Channel posted the best overall Nielsen-measured viewers for the 2020 Vice Presidential debate, while ABC had the top results among key 25-54 viewers and 18-34 viewers.

Fox was at 11.5 million viewers in Nielsen’s live program-plus-same day time-shifted metric, while ABC was at 3.3 million for 25-54 viewers and 846,000 for 18-34 viewers.

The top six networks in total viewers after Fox News Channel are ABC with 9.4 million viewers, followed by CNN with 7.3 million, MSNBC at 6.7 million, NBC with 6.6 million, CBS at 5.2 million and Fox at 4.1 million viewers.

Total debate viewership across all networks airing the event soared 56% higher to 57.9 million viewers versus the 2016 event’s total of 37.2 million. The largest demographic for the debate -- those 55 years and older -- tallied 35.3 million viewers, while 35-54 viewers came in at 15.2 million  and 18-34 viewers totaled 5.2 million.



Eighteen networks aired the 2020 debate, versus nine in 2016. The full list of 2020 networks includes ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, BET, BET Her, CNN, CNN en Español, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, Newsmax, Newsy, Vice and WGN America.

Nielsen says out-of-home (OOH) viewing and connected TV (CTV) viewing are included in the 2020 debate data, and that CTV can be as much as 11% for televised political events.

Nielsen also notes that debate coverage of just ad-supported networks was 56.5 million viewers among persons two years of age and older.

1 comment about "VP Debate TV Ratings: Fox News Tops In Total Viewers, ABC Leads In Key Demographics".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 9, 2020 at 9:22 a.m.

    Once again the "key" demos----18-34 ( ? ) and 25-54 accounted for a very small portion of the average commercial minute "audience". Using the figures you cited, Wayne, 18-34s represented a mere 9% of the viewers---counting assumed but not  measured OOH "viewers" ---while your figure for 35-54 is, I assume a typo and actually reprsents the 25-54 "demo". This vitally important news gobbling segment---or collection of segments---accounted for a whopping 26% and some of them also were included in the 18-34 tally. All of which means that the real "key viewer" group for news as well as the so-called "debate" is those aged 55+.

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