Insights

Second Presidential Debate of 2016 Draws 66.5 Million Viewers
Article

Second Presidential Debate of 2016 Draws 66.5 Million Viewers

An estimated 66.5 million people tuned in to watch the second debate of the 2016 presidential election on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. The debate was hosted at Washington University in St. Louis in St. Louis, M.O., and featured Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.

While coverage varied by network, 11 aired live coverage from approximately 9:00 pm ET to 10:30 pm ET.

In terms of the social nature of the debate, there were 62 million social media interactions across Facebook and Twitter from 18.2 million people in the U.S. related to the “Presidential Debate” on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, according to Nielsen.

  • Activity for the TV event peaked between 10:00 pm ET and 10:14 pm ET when 5.6 million interactions occurred as the candidates discussed taxes and Syria.
  • Each person Tweeting about the debate interacted seven times on average. “Trump” was mentioned in 5.5 million Tweets while “Hillary” was mentioned in 2.1 million Tweets.
  • There were 47.2 million interactions on Facebook about the event. 63% of people who interacted with the debate on Facebook were female and 41% were under the age of 35.

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 Oct. 9, 2016
  Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers
All Households 47.6 56,371,000 37.1 43,981,000
Persons 2+ 27.8 84,011,000 22.1 66,548,000
Persons 18-34 18.2 12,753,000 15.4 10,659,000
Persons 35-54 31.6 25,318,000 23.9 19,108,000
Persons 55+ 45.2 39,988,000 36.7 32,570,000

2016 Networks Included:

Debate 1 – ABC, CBS, FOX, UNI, NBC, TEL, AZA, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, FOXNC and MSNBC
Debate 2 – ABC, CBS, FOX, AZA, UNI, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, FOXNC and MSNBC

NOTE: Data above is inclusive of broadcast and cable networks, as well as PBS member stations. Common coverage of ad-supported networks only was 63.6 million viewers P2+.

2012 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day    
  Oct. 3, 2012 Oct. 16, 2012
  Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers
Persons 2+ 23.1 67,187,000 22.7 65,635,000

2012 Networks Included:

Debate 1 – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC
Debate 2 – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC