Trump-Less Fox News Republican Debate Draws 12.5 Million Viewers

Fox News felt the absence of Donald Trump during its Republican Debate telecast last night but still drew a strong 12.5 million viewers, according to early Nielsen figures.

The debate from Des Monies, Iowa is the second-most watched telecast in the network’s history, but the debate was the second-lowest audience for the seven Republican Debates since August. Trump, who skipped the debate after a dust-up with Fox News over debate moderator Megyn Kelly, instead hosted a event dedicated to military veterans, portions of which were aired by CNN and MSNBC.

CNN averaged 1.7 million viewers during the 9 to 11 p.m. hour while MSNBC drew a little over 1 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

The debate drew 3.5 million adult 25-54 demo as was the most watched show last night on either broadcast or cable television.

The earlier debate moderated by FNC’s Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum averaged 4.5 million in total viewers and 882K in the key demo. 

Viewership For Republican Debates

Aug. 6                    Fox News – 24 million

Sept. 17                 CNN – 22.9 million

Dec. 15                   CNN – 18 million

Oct. 28                   CNBC – 14 million

Nov. 10                  Fox Business Channel – 13.5 million

Jan. 28                  Fox News – 12.5 million

Jan. 14                   Fox Business Channel – 11 million

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.