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First Presidential Debate of 2016 Draws 84 Million Viewers

1 minute read | September 2016

Editor’s note: We have updated this post to include additional viewer demographic breaks for the Sept. 26, 2016, debate ratings and viewership numbers. The All Household and Persons 2+ ratings and viewership levels remain the same. 

An estimated 84 million people tuned in to watch the first debate of the 2016 presidential election on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The debate was hosted at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., and featured Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.

While coverage varied by network, 13 aired live coverage from approximately 9 pm ET to 10:45 pm ET.

In terms of the social nature of the debate, there were 17.1 million Twitter interactions from 2.7 million people in the U.S. related to the “Presidential Debate” on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, according to Nielsen.

The chart below highlights the sum of the average audience for these networks during common coverage.

2016 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day
  Sept. 26, 2016
  Rating Number of Viewers
All Households 47.6 56,371,000
Persons 2+ 27.8 84,011,000
Persons 18-34 18.2 12,753,000
Persons 35-54 31.6 25,318,000
Persons 55+ 45.2 39,988,000

2016 Networks Included:

Debate 1 – ABC, CBS, FOX, UNI, NBC, TEL, AZA, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, FOXNC, & MSNBC

NOTE: Data above is inclusive of broadcast and cable networks, as well as time period viewing to PBS affiliates. Common coverage over only ad-supported networks was 81 million viewers P2+.

2012 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day    
  Oct. 3, 2012
  Rating Number of Viewers
Persons 2+ 23.1 67,187,000

2012 Networks Included:


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