Fox News won last night’s Republican presidential debate hands down. Early Nielsen ratings suggest that this debate was the most-watched primary debate in history, with 24 million viewers tuning in.
Just in case 24 million means nothing to you, this CNN report characterizes the momentousness of these numbers in several other ways. For instance, last night’s debate was Fox News’ highest-rated telecast ever. It beat David Letterman’s last late-night show and almost tied the most popular Sunday Night Football game.
Should we speculate as to why so many people tuned in? Almost certainly because of Donald Trump and his loose cannon mouth; and maybe because the other candidates and the debate’s three moderators, Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace and Brett Baier, were so willing to go after the mogul, as the New York Times points out. Kelly’s question about Trump’s war on women, Wallace asking Trump about his past bankruptcies, and Baier merely asking whether he would raise his hand all went viral.
In comparison, the earlier debate with candidates who didn’t make the primetime cut only garnered 6.1 million viewers. And in good news for advertising dollars, almost 8 million viewers are in that coveted and ever-shifting demographic of 25 to 54 year olds.
I’m sure Fox News is also rejoicing at Trump whining about their treatment of him on Twitter this morning. No publicity is bad publicity, I guess!