Presidential Debate Draws 73.1 Million Viewers: Nielsen

President Trump and former VP Joe Biden argued Tuesday night (Image credit: ABC)

The first presidential debate of the 2020 election drew 73.1 million viewers, down 13% from the first debate four years ago, which drew 84 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

President Trump and former VP Joe Biden squaring off drew a 40.2 household rating, down from the 47.6 rating generated when Trump took on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Nielsen said the figures include live coverage on 16 broadcast and cable networks. The rating service notes that out-of-home viewing and connected TV are included in the 2020 figures, and could contribute as much as 11% of viewing for televised political events.

Related: Viewership Insights for the First Presidential Debate

Fox News Channel drew 17.1 million viewers, the most of any TV network. It was followed by ABC with 12.1 million, NBC with 9.3 million , CNN with 7.9 million, MSNBC with 7 million, CBS with 6.1 million, Fox with 5.2 million and CNN with 51,000. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.