Viewership for Wednesday’s second Republican primary debate of the 2024 election cycle was the lowest viewership since debates began in 2015, multiple media outlets reported, citing ratings service Nielsen.
Outlets like The New York Times And NBC News interpreted the decline as a sign that viewers are uninterested in learning more about the other Republican candidates as former President Donald Trump leads them in the polls. However, Trump took part in two of the three least-watched debates.
Trump appeared in the third least-viewed debate on March 10, 2016, hosted by CNN and garnering nearly 12 million views, and in the second least-watched debate on January 14, 2016, broadcast on Fox Business and narrowly received over 11 million views, according to a graph of data from NBC News.
Wednesday’s debate had about a 9.3 Millions of viewers – including 6.7 million on Fox News, 1.8 million on Fox Business and 813,000 on Univision. These numbers represent a 27% decrease compared to the first GOP primary debate of the 2024 cycle, which aired on Fox on August 23, 2023.
The first GOP primary debate of the 2024 cycle reached approximately 12.8 million viewers across all platforms – including Fox News, Fox Business Network and its streaming platforms. Fox News alone was watched by around 11 million viewers. But even those numbers reflected a significant decline in viewership compared to debates from previous election cycles.
The first-ever GOP debate, broadcast on Fox News on August 6, 2015, had 24 million viewers. The second broadcast, broadcast on CNN on September 16, 2015, reached around 23 million viewers.
Before this election cycle, another debate in which Trump did not appear, broadcast on Fox News on January 28, 2016, only reached 12.5 million views.
Nielson viewership numbers do not take into account viewers who tuned in via streaming.
In one Press release On Thursday, Fox News focused on the achievements of digital and live streaming.
“Across all FOX News Digital sites, 22.8 million minutes were viewed between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, marking the platform’s third-highest day of engagement on the FOX News live stream this year,” the press release said, adding, that “live stream minutes are up.” Compared to the average weekday in 2023, video starts increased 83%, video starts increased 65%, and unique viewers increased 29%. Compared to FOX News Digital’s average weekday in 2023, total video starts increased 22%, page views increased 5%, and total minutes increased 9%.”
“On social media, FOX News remained number one in overall social engagement in the news competition (Facebook, X, Instagram),” the press release continued.