Fewer Than 10M Watch GOP Presidential Debate

GOP candidates still outdraw regular TV programming
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2023 7:35 PM CDT
Republican Debate Draws Fewer Viewers This Time
An attendee takes cellphone images before a Republican presidential primary debate Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

About 9.5 million people watched the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night over all platforms, a decline of 27% from the 13 million who tuned in for the first debate in August. That means the first two GOP debates this cycle attracted half the audience of the first two debates in the 2016 cycle, when there also was a large field of candidates and no Republican incumbent, per the Hollywood Reporter. The decline indicated in Nielsen's preliminary data would seem to indicate fading interest in the GOP race, per the New York Times, possibly because Donald Trump has been a debate no-show.

Still, the Wednesday debate was the primetime winner among shows on cable or the legacy TV networks. The Republican family feud easily defeated the season finale of NBC's America's Got Talent and CBS' season premiere of Survivor—despite moderator Dana Perino's unpopular, cross-promotional question about voting a candidate off the island. Both of those shows drew fewer than 5.5 million viewers. The next debate is planned for early November in Miami, and Trump's campaign has said he won't be there, either. (Read more Republican debate stories.)

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