Donald Trump often has been a TV ratings hit, but maybe not this time. Preliminary results from his nearly head-to-head matchup Thursday night with Joe Biden show the president bringing up the rear, Variety reports. Biden, whose 90-minute event was carried by ABC, is averaging 13.9 million total viewers in early returns. Trump's hourlong appearance is coming in at 13.1 million combined on NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC. The difference was bigger when comparing the broadcast networks. MSNBC had about 1.7 million viewers and CNBC 700,000, which puts Biden ahead of Trump on the two major networks, 13.9 million to 10.7 million. The final numbers aren't in yet. ABC's livestream on YouTube also outdrew the Trump feed.
Before the town halls, both campaigns predicted a ratings triumph for Trump, per CNN; TV executives agreed. Jason Miller, a Trump campaign aide, had said, "We're gonna have a much bigger audience than Joe." But the former vice president has shown his ratings strength this campaign. The Democratic presidential nominee averaged 6.7 million viewers in a town hall shown last week on NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC, while Trump's event last month on ABC drew 3.8 million. Biden also outdrew Trump in their national conventions this summer. Biden had 24.6 million viewers, while Trump drew 23.8 million to the Republican National Convention. (As TV shows, they were very different, analysts said.)