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Advertiser and Viewership Insights for the Fifth Democratic Debate

For this week’s fifth Democratic primary debate, hosted by MSNBC and TheWashington Post, the top 10 candidates took the stage in Atlanta — a list that included: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. 

Notably, they took questions from an all-woman panel of moderators including MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell (NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent), Kristen Welker (NBC News White House correspondent) and Ashley Parker (Washington Post White House reporter).

First, a look at advertising insights from, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company. There were nearly 43 million TV ad impressions over the course of the debate, and aside from MSNBC and The Washington Post, the three most-seen brands that aired ads were all movie studios: Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and TriStar Pictures.

Given the limited commercial time, there were only 12 ad airings during the debate, and only four brands had more than one airing (Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, MSNBC and The Washington Post). Overall, spots from The Washington Post and MSNBC had the most impressions, but the third most-seen ad — which aired just once — came from TriStar Pictures, a trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood that generated 3.43 million impressions.

We also examined viewership trends from Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 12 million smart TVs. Here’s a look at where viewers were tuning in from across U.S. DMAs:

In general, the West Coast and parts of the Northeast had higher tune-in, along with notable hot spots of viewership like the Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City-Dubuque, IA area; Marquette, MI; and Burlington, VT-Plattsburgh, NY DMAs.

Inscape also tracks minute-by-minute viewership for everything that airs on TV. Here’s what it looked like over the course of the two-hour debate:

Viewership steadily increased during the first hour, with the highest level occurring between 9:40-9:55 p.m. ET. During this time, the candidates discussed:

  • Dealing with President Trump and bringing the country together (9:40-9:44 p.m.)
  • Child care and paid family leave (9:44-9:50 p.m.)
  • Affordable housing (9:50-9:55 p.m.)

The peak of viewership for the entire debate occurred around 9:48-9:49 p.m., as Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris discussed the need for paid family leave.