The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump takes place this Monday, and it’s predicted to pull in absurd ratings for NBC. How absurd, you might ask? Super Bowl absurd. As in a floor of 100 million people watching, absurd. Basically, everyone will be watching the pair square off, and television rating records are in jeopardy, including those from Super Bowls.
The debate is predicted to rival the 111.9 million viewers last year’s Super Bowl XLIX between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers drew, and may even approach the 118.5 million Katy Perry’s performance at the 2015 Super Bowl saw. The 100 million viewers mark has been achieved only once by a non-sports television show, the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H. By comparison, two debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney averaged 66.4 million viewers during the last election cycle. This year, NBC may see close to double those numbers.
The Lester Holt hosted verbal sparring match that will take place at Hofstra University in New York next week will be the first — and possibly most hyped — of three debates that take place between the two candidates. Depending on how the debates go, each could build on top of each other to eventually top anything broadcast television has ever seen in the way of nationwide ratings. The potential out of this world numbers makes it only natural they are compared to Super Bowl ratings because that’s the ceiling everything else is judged upon.
I think debate ratings, especially the first one, will be through the roof, astronomical, and may even approach Super Bowl numbers of viewers,” says Paul Levinson, a communications professor at Fordham University and author of the book “New New Media.”
What seems to be a given at this point is that the Clinton-Trump debates will certainly top any ratings a presidential debate has ever seen.
“Viewers sense the potential for drama and the unpredictable,” said Jeff McCall, a professor of media studies at DePauw University who thinks the size of the audience will surpass the record of 80 million who watched the 1980 contest between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan — who like Trump entered politics with a background in entertainment.
The NFL will not take their rating records being threatened lying down, of course; the first debate will go head-to-head against “Monday Night Football” featuring the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons. MNF games averaged 12.9 million viewers per week during the 2015 season.
(Via The Hill)