Viewers apparently couldn't peel their eyes away from the first presidential debate Tuesday night.
Despite widespread criticism of the chaos that unfolded on stage, the final 15 minutes actually rated slightly higher than the opening 15 minutes, and audiences fell just 2 percent from the 9:30 p.m. ET peak by the time it all wrapped up, Nielsen data shows. So, even if they were disappointed with what they witnessed, it seems like those who tuned in were prepared to finish what they started and stay engaged with the national political moment.
Debate rating and share by quarter-hour:
9:00 - 42.5/68
9:15 - 43.4/68
9:30 - 43.7/69
9:45 - 43.5/68
10:00 - 42.9/68
10:15 - 42.2/67
10:30 - 42.9/69
— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) September 30, 2020
Overall, though, Tuesday's ratings across the major networks dropped significantly from 2016's first presidential debate.
The early TV ratings for the debate last night are down BIG.
A total of only 29 million viewers across ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS.
The viewership on broadcast was nearly 43 million in 2016 for the first debate.
Brutal numbers. Have people lost interest? (Source: TVLine)
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) September 30, 2020
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