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Third Presidential Debate of 2016 Draws 71.6 Million Viewers
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Third Presidential Debate of 2016 Draws 71.6 Million Viewers

An estimated 71.6 million people tuned in to watch the final debate of the 2016 presidential election on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. The debate was hosted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada and featured Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.

While coverage varied by network, 12 aired live coverage from approximately 9:00 p.m. ET to 10:30 p.m. ET. The debate was also on tape delay on Azteca.

In terms of the social nature of the debate, there were 53.2 million social media interactions across Facebook and Twitter from 16.9 million people in the U.S. related to the “Presidential Debate” on Wednesday, Oct. 19 2016, according to Nielsen.

  • Activity for the TV event peaked between 10:15 p.m. ET and 10:29 p.m. ET when 4.6 million interactions occurred as the candidates discussed their fitness to be president, if they would accept the outcome of the election, and foreign hotspots.
  • Each person Tweeting about the debate interacted seven times on average. “Trump” was mentioned in 3.9 million Tweets, while “Hillary” was mentioned in 1.9 million Tweets.
  • There were 41.5 million interactions on Facebook about the event: 62% of people who interacted with the debate on Facebook were female and 40% were under the age of 35.

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

2016 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day

  Sept. 26, 2016 Oct. 9, 2016 Oct. 19, 2016
  Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers
All Households 47.6 56,371,000 37.1 43,981,000 41.7 49,533,000
Persons 2+ 27.8 84,011,000 22.1 66,548,000 23.8 71,562,000
Persons 18-34 18.2 12,753,000 15.4 10,659,000 14.8 10,329,000
Persons 35-54 31.6 25,318,000 23.9 19,108,000 26.5 21,123,000
Persons 55+ 45.2 39,988,000 36.7 32,570,000 39.8 35,407,000
Source: Nielsen

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
Debate 3 – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, AZA*, UNI, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, FOXNC, and MSNBC
*Tape delay

NOTE: Data above is inclusive of broadcast and cable networks, as well as PBS member stations. Common coverage of ad-supported networks only was 68.9 million viewers P2+.

2012 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day

  Oct. 3, 2012 Oct. 16, 2012 Oct. 22, 2012
  Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers
2+ 23.1

67,187,000

22.7

65,635,000

20.5 59,235,000

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
Debate 3 – ABC, CBS, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC