Accuracy in Media

Wednesday night marked the 26th GOP debate of the primary election cycle, and the ratings indicate that voters have been a little worn out by the seemingly endless series of debates. This one ranked 13th overall of the 19 debates that were measured by Nielsen ratings, and was the least viewed debate on CNN since Nov. 22. The next two debates that were scheduled have been canceled, but there is one more scheduled, on PBS, on March 19th.

This week’s debate attracted 4.7 million viewers, which was down from the 5.4 million who watched the last debate, also on CNN, on Jan. 26.  Even more critical was the drop in younger viewers to just under 1.4 million, from the 1.7 million on Jan. 26 in the A25-54 demo.

ABC had the most-watched debate of the cycle with 7.6 million viewers on Dec. 10, and NBC wooed the biggest audience in the A25-54 demo with nearly 2.6 million viewers on Jan. 23.

Overall the broadcast networks averaged 6.6 million viewers per debate with nearly 2 million in the younger demo, while the cable networks averaged 4.7 million and 1.4 million respectively. Among the cable networks, Fox News attracted the most overall viewers per debate aired with 5.3 million, and MSNBC did the best with the younger audience averaging 1.7 viewers in the A25-54 demo.

After the March 19th debate, voters will get a break from debates until after the Republican and Democratic Party conventions late this summer when the battle for the White House begins in earnest.

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